“Till We Eat Again”

Health is a serious topic but sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves and our diet mania (which is not the same as health).  Judy Gruen’s newest book, Till We Eat Again: A Second Helping, is definitely a look at the light side of dieting.  And for a serious look at how we confuse dieting and health and malign the overweight, see her latest piece on Jennifer Livingston: The Fat Anchor on aish.com.

Excerpt from Till We Eat Again: A Second Helping

By Judy Gruen

December 3

The calendar is closing in on me. December already! Where did the year go? And why in the last year have I lost just about everything I own except some weight? I’ve lost my keys, my sunglasses, and my peace of mind. I’ve lost my wallet, eight library books, and even, for a heart-stopping half-hour at an outdoor fair, one of the kids. I seem to be able to lose everything except this padding.

As an added reminder, even today’s spam e-mails were nearly all insulting in nature. One e-mailer invited me out on a date, if I could meet him in Sydney, Australia. The next suggested, with no subtlety whatsoever, that I start “loosing” weight — today! Do people who can’t even spell correctly expect me to cough up money for their charlatan plans? Besides, my weight already is “loose! Then I received an exclusive offer to purchase an Apple Cider Vinegar potion for only sixteen dollars and ninety-five cents, but I’ve already got apple cider vinegar at home that, if I am not mistaken, only cost me about a buck-sixty-nine.

Since the world is full of scams, I’ve ruled out the following types of diets and schemes:

  1. Any program that has to advertise by stapling flyers on telephone poles.
  2. Any product or plan where the ads have misspelled words.
  3. Anyone who wants to pay me as a subject in a test to eat a funny fiber-rich candy bar for lunch for the next thirty days.
  4. Any potion, powder or swill promising to make people begin confusing my body with that of Catherine Zeta-Jones.
  5. Any program that costs more than my monthly car payment.
  6. Any program demanding I buy their meals, have group encounter sessions, or perform unnatural acts of multi-level marketing.

I’m sure the list will grow, but so far, I think this is a good start.

Finish Your Chocolate – Maybe

photo: http://docakilah.wordpress.com

THURSDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) — If you can handle the fat and calories, there may be a health benefit to enjoying dark chocolate on occasion. New research suggests that the cocoa ingredient may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while preventing diabetes and improving the health of blood vessels.

So why not chow down on a candy bar or two every day? Here’s the rub: Scientists aren’t sure whether the downsides of cocoa consumption — such as potential obesity — could outweigh the benefits.

The research relied on mostly sugar-free dark chocolate, not the kind of chocolate normally found on the candy shelves. Participants who ate the chocolate, which contained cocoa rich in substances known as polyphenolic flavonoids, did better in several areas, including blood pressure. Levels of bad cholesterol went down in those younger than 50, and levels of good cholesterol went up.

The findings, which came from an analysis of data from 21 high-quality studies that included a total of 2,575 participants, were scheduled for presentation Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference in Atlanta. Experts note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals.

It remains unclear, the researchers said, as to just why chocolate appears to have the effect that they found. It’s also not known how much people would need to eat to get the benefits.

Then there’s the cocoa itself, another possible complication.

“The research looks at the benefits of cocoa and used a very specifically prepared cocoa,” said Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “Cocoa is an ingredient of chocolate. How the cocoa is processed makes a difference in whether or not the chocolate drink or bar it is contained in will have health benefits.”

“In other words, not all chocolate or cocoa is created equal,” she said.

Though chocolate in moderation may be fine for many people, Sandon said, there are better and healthier ways to boost heart health.

“Weight loss is king when it comes to preventing high blood pressure and improving insulin resistance,” she said. “I do not see cocoa having the power to overcome poor health habits.”

However, she said, there are ways to add cocoa to the diet that may keep fat and calories under control — such as drinking hot cocoa with skim milk, adding dark cocoa powder to the top of a cappuccino and using cocoa powder in recipes.

No Bones About It

photo: ezrapoundcake.com


By: Shani Goldner M.S. R.D. C.D.N. C.F.I.

Did you know that a leading cause of death in the elderly is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis affects over 25 million Americans. You will not find this listed on a death certificate, but this is indeed a high cause of mortality. When people age, they lose some muscle mass, and their bones lose density. All cells in the body periodically shed and rebuild. Bone cells are not different. However, as we age and our bone cells shed, we put back less calcium in our bones than we lost.

If you start with very thick bones, you won’t feel this loss that much. If you do not have a large savings of bone due to a lack of calcium in your diet, you will become more prone as you age to breaking or fracturing your bones if you fall. Your bones will be more fragile due to their low bone density.

Since your body cannot make calcium it is important that you get enough calcium from your diet. Consuming enough calcium is especially important during childhood and adolescence. Ninety percent of adult bone mass is formed during that period. Later on, regardless of your calcium consumption and exercise intensity, you will not put on much bone mass. You will be maintaining your current level of bone mass, and preventing a deficit.

The key to remember is to eat low-fat foods that are rich in calcium. Dairy is not the only good source of calcium. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach, are good sources too. Almonds and sardines are other good choices. Calcium-fortified soy and calcium-fortified juices are some more great ways to help you meet your calcium needs. When choosing dairy, go for the low-fat version. The saturated fat in whole milk, yogurt, and cheese, is one of the body’s best sources for producing artery-clogging cholesterol. So try having two low-fat dairy sources, and one vegetable source of calcium each day. Good sources include: milk (1 cup=215 mg), high calcium milk (500 mg/cup), yogurt, buttermilk, cheese (1.5 oz=305 mg), cottage cheese, nonfat milk powder, sardines (3 oz.=325 mg), almonds (2 Tbs=80 mg). The stock from cooked bones also releases calcium into the soup.

Try this tasty dish that provides you with a great source of calcium, beta-carotene, and dietary fiber!
Vegetable Quesadillas

Each quesadilla provides 210 calories, 4 grams of fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, 3g fiber, 310 mg calcium, 6 mg beta-carotene, and 75 mg of vitamin C.

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She has a practice in Long Island and Brooklyn. She can be reached at (516) 596-7934 or at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. For more information please visit www.mynydiet.com

Vegetable Quesadillas

photo: ezrapoundcake.com

2 flour tortillas
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
2 yellow peppers, finely chopped
1 zucchini, sliced in rounds
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons spicy bottled salsa
10 watercress sprigs, trimmed

Directions:

1. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Warm the tortilla in the skillet for 2 minutes. Turn the tortilla in the skillet and place half of the tomatoes, bell peppers, scallions, and carrot on one half of the tortilla.. Top the vegetables with half of the cheese, yogurt, watercress and salsa. Fold over the tortilla and cook for an additional three minutes (until the cheese melts).

2. Transfer the quesadilla onto a plate. Prepare the second quesadilla in the same manner. Enjoy!

A Whole New You

photo: germanfood.about.com

By: Shani Goldner MS RD CDN CFI

Whole grains are getting a lot of press lately. Nine out of ten Americans do not get enough whole grains. That is no surprise when you find out that the recommendation is three servings of whole grains each day. One of the key benefits that can be found in whole grains is their excellent source of fiber. Nutrition experts are proclaiming fiber as the new wonder food. It’s good for lowering cholesterol, for preventing diabetes and perhaps cancer, and for maintaining a healthy weight, as well as keeping the digestive system in excellent working order.

In a Harvard study, men who ate 1-2 ounces of whole grains per day, cut their risk of heart disease by 18%. There was an added benefit if the whole grains had a high bran content. People who consumed a diet rich in wheat and oat bran further reduced their heart disease risk by 30%.

Whole grains and fiber are not a dietary necessity strictly for old people. It is necessary for everyone. The U.S. Surgeon General, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians and many other organizations are saying that we should be eating more fiber. People have shifted their focus from the high protein fad diets to a menu where you can now include carbohydrates. Who wants to eliminate bread, cereal, and rice from their diet forever?

The switch to carbs is a nod in the right direction, but to get there, you must make the switch to whole grain carbohydrates. You still want to monitor how much of your total carb intake is from highly processed sugars, and rather, consume high quality carbs that provide you with soluble and insoluble fiber.

Where can you find fiber? It is the part of the plant that is a nondigestible complex carbohydrate. Insoluble fibers can be found in wheat bran, whole grains, and vegetables. The benefit that these fibers offer is they provide bulk to the foods you eat. Soluble fiber can be found in oats, barley, and beans. They keep you full for longer. They bind to LDL cholesterol, helping to pull the “bad” cholesterol out of circulation. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar levels leaving you with a reduced risk of developing type II diabetes, hypercholesteremia, and colon cancer.

How much do you need? 25-35 grams of dietary fiber each day for adults. Children need 5 grams per day plus their age. For example an eight year old needs 5g + 8g = 13g each day.

Before you become overwhelmed by the numbers, remember that a serving of fruit or vegetables provide you with 3 grams, ½ cup oatmeal provides another 3 grams. One serving of whole grain cereal provides anywhere from 3-14g of fiber. One slice of whole wheat bread can contain 1-3g per slice. It is very important to read the nutrition labels to maximize your intake of high fiber foods.

Another great way to increase your intake of whole grains is by switching from white pasta to whole wheat pasta. It may take some getting used to, but it is well worth the effort. It has two to three times as much fiber as regular pasta. Considering how many adults and children love this dish, the whole wheat version can now be a guilt free way to enjoy your favorite dish. Just remember that a serving is ½ -3/4 cup raw.

The food industry came out with a huge variety of dark brown, whole wheat pastas that can be found in your supermarket. Sales of whole-grain pasta have tripled in the past four years. Consumers are taking to heart the advice to increase their intake of whole grains in their diets.

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters of Science and a Certified Dietitian/ Nutritionist. She is an Oxford Provider. In her private nutrition practice, she counsels adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She can be reached at (718) 854-5784. Please send questions or comments to mynydiet.com

Carrots Galore

By: Shani Goldner MS RD CDN CFI

Carrots are a crunchy and sweet vegetable that adults and children enjoy. Now, in the fall, is the time that they are in season and they are at their freshest. We can eat carrots plain, in salads, baked, in soups and there are many other creative ways to throw them into your meal; not to mention their frequent role as one of the simanim at our Rosh HaShanah table.

But that’s not all. Carrots are rich in an antioxidant called beta carotene, a branch of vitamin A. Carrots helps protect us from heart disease. One study found that there was a 60% decrease in heart disease risk when they had at least one serving of carrots per day compared to people who never eat carrots. Another benefit of carrots is that they protect your eye sight and keep your night vision in working order. Danish researchers have found that falcarinol; a phytochemical is responsible for protecting carrots from fungal disease. Although this compound can be toxic in extremely large dosages, smaller dosages can protect your body from diseases such as cancer.

When buying carrots, look for ones that are firm, smooth, straight and bright in color. The deeper the orange color, the more beta-carotene it contains. You can enjoy them raw or cooked. Do not worry, you will not lose beta-carotene during the cooking process, cooking them only makes them taste sweeter. Carrots are not only rich in beta carotene. They are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium and copper.

Best Ever Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Masters of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She can be reached at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. Please send questions or comments to mynydiet.com

Recipe Makeovers


You love your grandmother’s cooking, but her recipe calls for 1 stick of margarine, 3/4 cup of oil, and 4 eggs. Just reading this recipe can raise your cholesterol level and cause you to put on weight! The solution? Redo the recipe by switching or reducing problem ingredients.

Most recipes can undergo a makeover without altering the taste or texture of the food. So if you are trying to enjoy your favorite foods while sticking to a healthy eating plan, try these changes to make your recipes tasty and healthy. You will be surprised how easy it is to stay on a diet once you can eat the foods you love that still have great flavor.

1. Reduce the amount of fat, sugar and sodium

With most recipes, you can reduce the amount of fat, sugar and sodium without altering the flavor. By reducing fat and sugar, you also save calories.

Fat: Use half of the oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce. You can also use 1 cup of apple sauce instead of 1 cup of oil or margarine. Many reduced fat foods such as cheese, yogurt, cream cheese and milk, have the same taste as the full fat versions with less calories and fat.

Sugar: Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. When you use less sugar, add spices like cinnamon, or flavorings such as vanilla or almond extract to enhance the sweetness of the food. You can also use half sugar and half baking Splenda for a lower calorie but sweet taste.

Sodium: Cut the amount of salt in half for baked goods that don’t require yeast. For foods that require yeast, do not reduce the salt. Without salt, the food will become dense and flat. For most main dishes, salads, soups and other foods, you can cut the amount of salt in half or eliminate it completely. Try using low sodium soy sauce. It has the same taste with a fraction of the sodium.

2. Make healthy changes

Healthy substitutions will reduce the amount of fat, calories and sodium in your recipes, and at the same time boost the food’s nutritional value. For example, use whole-wheat pasta to add fiber, magnesium, iron and B vitamins (niacin, thiamin and riboflavin) to your meal. When preparing pasta, add a bag of frozen vegetables. Each portion will now be bigger but have fewer calories. It will also be full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

3. Change the method of preparation

Healthy cooking, such as braising, broiling, grilling and steaming, can retain the flavor and nutrients of your food without adding extra fat. If your recipe calls for frying the ingredients in oil or margarine, try a different method of preparation such as baking or broiling.. If that doesn’t work, try sautéing in a nonstick pan or spraying the frying pan with nonstick cooking spray.

4. Eat the main course on salad plates

No matter how much you reduce or switch ingredients, some recipes may still be too high in sugar, fat or salt. For those foods, reduce your portion size. Smaller portions have less fat, calories and sodium and allow you to still enjoy your favorite foods. Moderate but do not eliminate your favorite foods. By eliminating your favorite foods, you are more likely to feel deprived and go off your diet altogether.

When looking over your recipes, decide what to change, what to keep, and what to save for once in a while. Make notes on your recipe cards of healthy changes, so you will not forget them the next time you prepare a dish. You may have to make the recipe a few times to find which changes work for you but an end product that is both healthy and tasty is well worth the trouble. So get creative and start experimenting with your favorite recipes!

Instead of a pastry or a piece of cake with breakfast, try these fabulous whole wheat hazelnut popovers. They are quick and easy to make and they are low sodium, low cholesterol, low fat, and of course low calorie.

Whole Wheat Hazelnut Popovers

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She has a practice in Long Island and Brooklyn. She can be reached at (516) 596-7934 or at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. For more information please visit www.mynydiet.com

Whole Wheat Hazelnut Popovers

1 cup low-fat milk
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely ground toasted hazelnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease10 popover pan cups or six to eight muffin tins.
2. Combine ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk until smooth. Do not overbeat. Fill tins two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm.
Each muffin has 93 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 103 mg sodium, and 1.25 grams dietary fiber. Enjoy!

Fattening Friends

By: Rachael E . Schindler PhD, MA, MS, CAI, CPT

As both an exercise and scuba diving enthusiast, one thing rings true for both, buddies make it better! As with many other things in life, friends can help you along in a variety of ways. I know that for many years the Lucille Roberts fitness chain would advertise, “Join with a friend for less”, since studies showed that a person is more likely to continue with an exercise program when doing so with a partner. Even with scuba diving, PADI, a certifying agency, promotes it as a fun, buddy sport! Eating (another one of my favorite pastimes) is a major social experience as well. We eat with our families and friends, even just as an activity. But are there times where friends can thwart your health goals, especially with eating? You know, you say to yourself, “I had to make all those heavy, rich dishes since I’m having company on Shabbat”, or, “That’s what we do on Saturday night. We eat, with friends. Again. At night.” Recent research has shown that you consume 35% more calories eating with a friend than eating solo. What can you do if your friends are making you fat?

Let’s say you are depressed about something, or angry, or hurt and you call up a friend or two and they come right over or meet you at the ice cream store for some chocolate concoction. Studied have shown that when men are depressed they are more likely to have drinking mates and women are more likely to have eating buddies who enable them to eat more and more.

So what should you do? Don’t just graze ‘n gripe! At least, graze-gripe, ‘n WALK! That’s right! Exercise not just your mouths, but your bodies. Many studies have shown how mild to moderate exercise a couple of times a week dramatically reduces symptoms of depression and keeps it at bay. My own extensive dissertation concluded that mild to moderate exercise, 4 times a week for about a half hour was optimal at not only reducing depression and anxiety but in raising the perceived quality of life of the person. Exercise not only lightens our depression by giving us a, “runner’s high”, it also makes us feel good and more optimistic and positive about life in general.

What if you are the type of person that just likes to eat in groups or with company Some people wind up eating more than they wanted to just because they “Had to order something”, or, “I couldn’t resist. It just looked good”. They let go because they see that their friends are and it feels like they have permission to do so especially in a group setting because the atmosphere is festive. You know, how sometimes you are out to dinner with friends and you wind up eating dessert even though you were full and really didn’t want to.

So what can you do? Drink, and drink some more! Water that is. Fill up, eat a salad, or change seats! That’s right! Move yourself or the food away from you.

What if you are the type of person who doesn’t eat much during the day because you are too stressed, only to make up for it and more by literally pigging out at night with friends? Studies have shown that overeating and over drinking are common ways to cope and blow off steam, especially in groups.

So what can you do? Arrive at the restaurant hungry but not famished. Snack on a mix of carbs and protein, like a piece of cheese and an apple, an hour before to keep the edge off. You can fill up fast with soup or fiber and look to enjoy your friends’ company to relax instead of relying on the food itself for salvation. Don’t over-order. Share a main and dessert, or order just a few appetizers to pick at. Eat slowly and savor your food, stopping as soon as you start to feel full. (Take the rest home with you for another meal.) In addition, you can limit nights like this to once a week, and enjoy it within reason by ordering one yummy dish instead of an appetizer, main AND dessert.

What if a buddy/ spouse/ relative constantly offers you food? (This by the way is so Jewish.) Subconsciously she may want you to fail your healthy eating efforts because she may be envious of your weight loss efforts- especially if she needs to lose weight herself.

So what can you do? Be open and honest with your pal; tell them you are trying to watch what you eat, and if she persists more than 3 times, question how good a friend she really is and whether she is trying to sabotage yours or her diet. Try to keep get-togethers food-free. Be strong (yet nice) and they will get the message you mean business. You are worth it!

Finally, help both your waistline and your wallet by making expensive restaurant meals an occasional indulgence.

Rachael E. Schindler, PhD, MA, MS, CAI, CPT. Over 18 years experience in exercise physiology, Pilates, nutritional counseling and teaching, as well as multiple degrees in forensic and developmental psychology, come together to offer you the best of both body and mind. Specializing in food and behavioral “issues” for both children and adults, you get the right combination of diet, exercise and support all in one stop! Insurance is accepted. I can be reached at Teichbergr@aol.com, or (917)690-5097.

Chocoholics Dig In

photo: my2002in1001days.wordpress.com

By: Shani Goldner MS RD CDN CFI

Chocolate is good for you! You heard right. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate may protect against heart disease. Cocoa has been shown to modestly reduce LDL oxidation and increase HDL levels. The once-prevalent belief that if something tastes so good it can’t possibly be good for you has been replaced by a new picture of chocolate and cocoa products and their relation to sound health and nutrition.

Researchers conducted many studies on the relationship between dark chocolate and heart disease. The main flavonoids in cocoa are flavan-3-ols and procyanidins. These are powerful antioxidants. They provide a variety of benefits such as antioxidant protection and they assist in maintaining vascular homeostasis. The British Medical Journal suggests having 100 grams of dark chocolate every day. This amount has been shown to reduce blood pressure in men and women. Chocolate has been shown to reduce heart disease by 21%.

Most of the chocolate that is available today is made from highly processed cocoa beans. The high temperature used to sweeten the chocolate decreases the amount of phytochemicals left in the chocolate. Try using unsweetened cocoa for maximum health benefits. The darker the chocolate, the more flavinols it contains and it increases your heart healthy benefits by reducing your risk of fatal blood clots.

One third of the fat in dark chocolate is composed of oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid can also be found in olive oil. This helps maintain cardiovascular health. Another benefit of chocolate is its noted positive effect on mood.

Chocolate is best tasted on an empty stomach. Chocolate should be stored at 66-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not store chocolate in the refrigerator for it will cause the cocoa to separate and form a white bloom. A couple of serving per week at an ounce each is enough to indulge without the bulge.

Decadent Chocolate Muffins

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She has a practice in Long Island and Brooklyn. She can be reached at (516) 596-7934 or at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. For more information please visit www.mynydiet.com

Decadent Chocolate Muffins

photo: my2002in1001days.wordpress.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
2 cups applesauce
1 large egg
1 cup warm soy milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. In a small bowl beat the egg until foamy. Add in the soy milk and apple sauce. Combine the two mixtures, blending until the mixture is just moist.
3. Spoon the batter into lightly greased muffin cups, filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from rack and allow them to cool completely before storing. Muffins are great fresh or they can be frozen for later.

From “My Plate” to Your Plate

photo: choosemyplate.gov

By Laurie Goldberg

Congratulations Moms! You and your kids made it through another challenging year of homework assignments, tests, carpool, hockey practice and various after school activities, to name of few small hurdles. Now all that’s left to do is get organized and pack for camp and then you can sit back and enjoy a well-deserved break. Unless, of course, your concern for your kids’ well-being stretches to one more thing—camp food. If you are like me, you tried to plan nutritious, balanced meals for your family (most of the time anyway), but now that the kids are soon to be more footloose and independent—and subject to peer pressure, canteen and outings—how confident are you that they have the skills and determination to continue your healthful trend? Don’t despair; help just came down the pike this month, in June, in the form of My Plate, a quick and easy tool from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help people design the way they pick and choose various foods to eat at mealtime. Think of it as a crib sheet for healthful eating.

My Plate is not the first attempt by the USDA to guide people towards good eating habits. This government agency has been recommending food guides to the public since 1916. I’m sure your memory doesn’t go back that far, but you likely recall the iconic USDA Food Guide Pyramid that was created in 1992—a triangular shaped symbol consisting of six colored horizontal sections with pictures of one of the six food groups in each section. This image eventually fell out of favor (too much starch choice, for one thing) and was replaced, in 2005 with My Pyramid. Using the triangle shape again, the new icon added a stick figure running up the side stairs (for exercise). Vertically adjacent, colorful panels replaced the horizontal sections and, food images could be seen at the base of the panels. However, in some reproductions, they were removed, resulting in an even more abstract message that didn’t stick. Waistlines just got wider, work schedules became tighter, access to cheaper fast food eateries became greater, and physical activity plummeted, with no help from our increasing obsession with technology that keeps us in our seats for long stretches of time.

On June 3, 2011 the USDA together with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin unveiled My Plate, an interactive tool that demonstrates how to design a healthful meal plate quickly and simply. My Plate puts into graphics the updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Using the familiar round mealtime plate, My Plate shows five food groups on a sectioned plate in recommended serving sizes, with a circle on the right side to stand in for a glass of milk, yogurt or dairy equivalent and a fork at the left of the place setting (Yes, I also want to know where the knife and spoon are).

The instructions are to fill the plate as follows:

1/2 the plate for Fruits and Vegetables (more vegetables than fruit to be exact)
1/4 of the plate for Whole Grains
1/4 of the plate for Protein choices

For more detail, go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ where you will also find 10 Nutrition Tips to build a healthy plate, and a listing of foods in each food category, among a plethora of other relevant information.

Overall, healthcare professionals weighing in on this symbol seem to agree that it is a clear, useful foundation from which individuals of all ages can get a handle on how to make better food choices. Although not a perfect solution, as certain foods (peanut butter, nuts, certain oils, pizza, other combination foods and dessert, anyone?) will require a greater depth of knowledge to incorporate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/tipsresources/mixed_food_information.html#). But, that’s where you might want to consider consulting a Registered Dietitian to help you with the details. The best part, however, is that it’s a simple message for parents and teachers to convey and it’s easy enough for even young, restless kids to grasp. Some helpful categories you will find include:

Kid Friendly Veggies and Fruits

2000 calorie a day sample menu with nutrients and food group breakdown

Kids section with worksheet and games to help them participate in meal planning

Ways to increase physical activity

Guide for Weight loss

So before you pack your children off to camp, get your tools out (computer, plate, glass, food, and utensils), make a place setting on your table and navigate the website with them so they can get into the practice of creating a healthful plate and making educated decisions, for the time when you are no longer in control of their lives.

Laurie Goldberg, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian, Certified-Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters of Science in Guidance and Counseling. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association. Laurie has a private practice in New York City where she provides nutritional counseling in the areas of weight loss and weight management, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular disease prevention and management and wellness She is a member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) as well as the Nutrition Entrepreneurs, Weight Management and Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition dietetic practice groups. Laurie is also a freelance writing contributor to Patch.com in Pelham, NY and the surrounding Westchester areas.

For appointments and more information you can contact Laurie at 917 834-7337 or lauriesgoldberg@gmail.com

A Muffin A Day

photo: healthfulchef.com

By: Shani Goldner MS RD CDN CFI

Most of us enjoy eating muffins. Whether as breakfast with a coffee or tea or as a snack sometime during the day, we just love muffins. Some of us dieters think that store bought low-fat muffins will help us stay slim. We can suffer through our dietary restrictions as long as we know that we can have a muffin as a reward.

Imagine my surprise when I read a nutrition label on a package of low-fat muffins! It said that there were eight servings in the package but I only counted four muffins in the box. I do not know about you, but I never eat half a muffin now and wrap up the other half of the muffin for the next day! The 230 calorie muffin with 4 grams of fat just turned into 460 calories with 8 grams of fat, the same amount as a slice of chocolate cake!

However, there is a way to enjoy muffins once again and not feel guilty. By preparing them yourself, you can boost your calcium, protein, lower the fat content, and load up on fiber. So relax and savor these delicious muffins.

Best Ever Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She has a practice in Long Island and Brooklyn. She can be reached at (516) 596-7934 or at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. For more information please visit www.mynydiet.com

Best Ever Carrot Zucchini Muffins

photo: healthfulchef.com

By: Shani Goldner MS RD CDN CFI

1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unprocessed bran
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened/natural apple sauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin pan with a non stick spray.
2. In a large bowl mix the flour, bran, sugar, splenda, baking powder, baking soda, salt and walnuts. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until they are foamy. Then add apple sauce and vanilla extract.
3. Combine the two mixtures; add in the zucchini and carrots. Stir until it is just blended. Spoon batter into prepared non-stick muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Remove muffins from the rack and allow to cool completely before storing. Muffins are great fresh or they can be frozen for later.

“Shrink Yourself”

photo:healthsportfitclub

By:Dr. Rachael E. Schindler

When I was asked to write this article about some pervasive health issue in our society, I thought to myself, “Where should I begin? (Seriously.) I decided to address the question that has plagued me in my quest to help clients for almost two decades. namely, ”Why do we overeat once we have decided not to?” People tend to eat when they are hungry. But they also tend to eat when they are NOT hungry, for a variety of reasons. You can only imagine the gamut of responses I have received over the years to that seemingly simple question! (Some of you may be able to resonate….) “Oh, the lasagna called to me”, or, “I just to finished the leftovers”. “My friend cooked and I didn’t want to disappoint her”, or “I have to eat a second dinner with my husband when he gets home”. “I only live once,” or “I was bored/lonely/hurt/depressed.” I wondered why people do this. They may diet all day/ week, or exercise so hard, only to eat back all the progress they made thus far and be back to square one, or even gain a few pounds!

I believe the trick in resolving some of these overeating issues lies not only with controlling yourself from eating too much, but understanding the POWERLESSNESS that people felt to overrule their conscious intent NOT to eat. Simply put, there was not only an urge to eat, but, there was an actual conflict occurring between two parts of your mind fighting over who was going to take control, that same moment, when your hand moved toward the chocolate cake.

So then, why do some people still go for the chocolate cake? It’s simple. The old adage that goes something like, people either eat to live or live to eat, still rings true. When you feel hunger, you may be the type of person that remains IN CONTROL of the situation and “physically” eat to live. In this case you pretty much won’t overeat or sabotage your eating plan. (Only when the control gets extreme is this a problem.) Or, you may be the type of person that feels the need to eat in order to ESCAPE. This person eats because everything else in their lives seems so stuck or controlled that he/she needs to let loose somewhere and feel good. Let’s face it, eating is relatively speaking an easy, pleasurable, quick-fix, that is socially accepted.

Therefore, there are many causes and triggers to this kind of “emotional” eating. Emotional eating occurs when food becomes so closely linked with feelings that the two overlap and become one. Usually the foundation for this starts in childhood. I hear my clients tell me, “When I fell down I was offered a cookie”; “When I was good I got candy”; or “When I misbehaved, dessert was withheld.” Food was transformed from a simple source of nourishment to a reward, punishment, love object, or friend. Once that happened, food became a way to control your emotions – to deal with your feelings of powerlessness and therefore not look for other ways to handle the situations. You then fall back into the trap of eating to cope with those unresolved feelings. Simply put, when something happens to bother you, (ie: situations, places, events, and people), you feel bad or anxious and you have the uncontrollable urge to eat. Then, when you eat more than you know you should, it’s always followed by feelings of regret, self-hatred and of course extra pounds!

So many of us are not settled emotionally. We will try to learn how to deal with these real issues over the coming weeks. But what are you to do in the meantime? I’ll let you in on a little secret. It may be hard to not to use food as an escape but what if that food itself also controls you! That’s right. You may be in general someone who is in control of what they eat but can’t resist certain foods once they begin eating them (Remember those fries, or bags of chips?), or someone, who when triggered, will only eat a particular indulgence (ie: “good” cake, chocolate, etc..) that will seem appealing enough to stuff into his/her mouth, mindlessly. You know what I am talking about, simple carbs or sugars. That yo-yo high effect inducing, serotonin or happy mood enhancing food group! For some, just a little goes a long way. Those are probably the “calorie-sensitive” types. But for the “carb-sensitive” bunch, they are dangerous! Sure you feel good as you eat it, because sugars are digested in the mouth, instantaneously. You get that sugar rush asap. But once you’re finished eating (that’s if you finish eating), and the numb feel-better trance is done, you crash, only to need more. Therefore, the nature of certain foods makes you crave them, no matter what else is going on! So when you are eating to fill that vacuum, you are really making a bigger one! As one of my clients always says, “Yes, cake gorreret cake”.

So, now you feel doomed. Don’t. I’m here to help. Here’s what you can do, and how to stop overeating. First, stay in control, eat something protein-rich and then wait for the feeling of satiety to kick in. Yes, wait. Simple hunger CAN wait. Just remember how you feel like on a fast day. Hunger passes. You survive it. It’s the emotional hunger that can’t wait. So, even if you want to eat for other reasons besides that it has been a few hours since you last ate and you need to refuel; don’t fall in to the simple-carb trap. It will get you and not let you go until your bloodstream gets over it with time, kind of like a hangover. So if it’s snacktime and you want to eat for whatever reason, have a small handful of nuts, lowfat cheese, or carrots with chummus (my all time favorite food). Or if it’s mealtime already, drink some water, have your veggies, or soup, protein and then if you need it, carbs; in that order. You may be full by the time you get to the starches or if not, you’ll definitely eat less of the carbs than if you started eating them first. While complex carbohydrates are a better choice than simple ones, it still takes a while for that feeling of fullness to kick in and you may run with it. Only when you take care of the immediate, almost primal need to eat can you begin to address the underlying issues responsible for your need to comfort yourself with food and explore the different methods to do so.

At this point, some people may be thinking,”This is all nice, but I am so busy/ need to work/have kids/ don’t have time…”, as are most of my clients, b”h. So, the thing to do is plan your snacks AND meals and take something along with you just in case you get tied up, (which is more often the case than not). That is to say; grab a fruit, a Shmerling lowfat cheese triangle or two, or an edamame snack pack along with your water bottle BEFORE you step out of the house. I know most women do the same for their kids, so go ahead and pack a ziploc for yourselves as well!

Last but not least, the missing link in this recipe for success is no small cheese. It’s exercise! It gives you all those feel good hormones without all the calories, it boosts your metabolism so you burn more calories at rest, and it gives you a great, fun escape from whatever is on your mind! Your eating plan is also statistically more apt to succeed in conjunction with exercise, as well as feelings of being in control of emotions and releasing of them; AT THE SAME TIME! A bargain! I love it!

So, to wrap things up, 1. Try to figure out why you may overeat, either on your own, with a friend or therapist. 2. Work on dealing with the hunger itself with a sound nutritional plan that includes exercise, and 3. Explore other ways to deal with emotional topics aside from eating. And, congratulations, you are now on your way to a healthier you, in all senses of the word!

Rachael E. Schindler, PhD, MA, MS, CAI, CPT. Over 18 years experience in exercise physiology, nutritional counseling and teaching, as well as multiple degrees in forensic and developmental psychology, come together to offer you the best of both body and mind. Specializing in food and behavioral “issues” for both children and adults, you get the right combination of diet, exercise and support all in one stop! As many Five Towners can testify, “Rachael’s brew” really works. What I offer is unique because what most people need is a nutritional counselor, trainer, pilates and yoga master trainer, therapist, personal shopper and more. I provide all of these programs in ONE plan that gets results quickly and can be done in the comfort of your own home! Kids and parents alike! Insurance is accepted. I can be reached at Teichbergr@aol.com, or (917)690-5097.

Heart Healthy Eating

By Chana Rubin, RD

You already know that eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains and fish is good for your health. But did you know how much these foods can actually help lower your risk of heart disease?

1. One serving a day of leafy green vegetables is associated with a 23% reduction in cardiovascular events.
2. Eat at least 2 to 3 servings of whole grains every day and your risk of having a heart attack may be decreased by 21%.
3. Two servings of fish each week is associated with a 27% reduction in risk of a fatal heart attack.

Eat all these and you may lower your risk of heart disease by over 20%. That equals or exceeds the results of some medications! (If you’re already on cholesterol-lowering medication, don’t stop taking them without consulting your physician.)

It’s easy enough to eat leafy greens – 1 cup of salad greens (dark green lettuce please, not iceberg) is one serving. Then there’s spinach, chard, kale, and a variety of Asian-style greens (like Napa cabbage and bok choy) that can be stir fried or used in soups, omelets and casseroles.

Kasha, bulgur, farro, barley, brown rice, quinoa and millet are just some of the whole grains to try. One way to cook them easily is to add them to a pot of boiling water – just like you’d cook pasta. When they’re done to your liking, drain in a strainer. Whole grains work as a side dish and as part of a main course. Start your day with half a cup of cooked whole oats and you’ve already eaten one serving of whole grains!

If you enjoy fish, eating two servings a week shouldn’t be difficult. But with warnings about mercury, farm-raised fish and endangered species, it’s often hard to know (or to find) the healthiest fish choices. And if you just don’t like fish, what are you supposed to do?

For cardiovascular health, fish oil is often recommended, especially if you don’t eat fish regularly. Fish oil contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which have been found to lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with known heart disease. It may also lower blood pressure and slow the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque.

Dosage varies, depending on your age and state of health, so talk to your health care professional before starting to take fish oil capsules. If you’ve tried fish oil and stopped because it caused you to burp, store the capsules in the freezer and swallow them while they’re still frozen.

About Chana
Chana Rubin, RD
Chana is a registered dietitian. She studied at Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Science University and has taught nutrition and healthy cooking in the US and in Israel. Her book, Food for the Soul – Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating, has been endorsed by Harvard School of Health Professor Meir Stampfer and James Beard Award-Winning cookbook author Gil Marks. Chana has three sons and two granddaughters and lives with her husband in Beer Sheva, Israel. Visit her site www.healthyjewisheating.com

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True or False: How Well Do You Know Your Dietary Fat?

credit:almightydad.com

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

Cutting out fat is essential for weigh loss.
False. Fats are an essential dietary nutrient. Fats (oils, meat and dairy fats) are calorie dense; therefore, if you are watching your waist line you probably have to reduce the amount of fat you are eating or cooking with. However, healthy fats, namely monounsaturated (olive oil, canola oil) and polyunsaturated fats (soy bean or sesame oil), in contrast to unhealthy [trans fat] and less healthy [saturated] fat, should always be part of your daily eating plan; cutting these out altogether will likely leave you nutrient deficient and craving fat- or sugar-laden foods.

Trans fats are artificial and processed.
True. Naturally occurring trans fats can be found in trace amounts in dairy and meat products, but most trans fats are processed from liquid oils. Trans fats have no nutritional value and are the most unhealthy fats found in our diet. In contrast to healthy fats, trans fats raise cholesterol levels and are associated with the development of heart disease. Foods containing partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable fats are likely to contain trans fats.

Margarine is better than butter.
Sometimes true; sometimes not. Margarine generally has much less total fat as well as less saturated fat. Because most people eat too much saturated fat, (found in dairy and meat products) margarine may be a healthier option. However, margarine is processed and often contains trans fats. If you eat very little meat and cheese, and if your cholesterol levels are relatively low, a little butter is probably okay. For the rest of us, I would recommend using organic margarine made from monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and free of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats.

Starchy foods do not contain fat
False. Processed starchy foods like packaged cakes, cookies, cereal bars, and crackers can be high in fat from added oils, butter, or margarine. We often think of these foods are unhealthy because of their sugar content; however, their fat content can also be an issue especially for those of us with high cholesterol levels. If you make your own baked goods, use polyunsaturated margarine, monounsaturated vegetable oil, or fruit purée (apple or banana), to control the fat content of your food.

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com
readers

Sweet Potatoes: A Mere Potato or a Fall Superfood?

credit:weelicious.com

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

Sweet potatoes, sometimes referred to as “yams”, are from the root vegetable family, and with their amazing color and nutritional value they are in another galaxy compared to the typical white potato. The orange variety is so sweet that our tendency to dress sweet potato with sweeteners like maple syrup, brown sugar, and marshmallows is completely unnecessary, and turns them into a calorie-loaded food. Half a plain medium sweet potato only contains about 100 calories.

Although full of simple starches contributing to its sweetness, sweet potatoes are also rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, making them a highly satiating food. As such, they keep blood sugar levels reasonably stable and are an excellent food for people with diabetes and those wanting to loose or maintain weight. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A (beta-carotine) and C.

Sweet potatoes, either yellow or orange varieties, are available all year round but fall, when we start to crave hot, starchy comfort foods, is one of the best times to start incorporating them into your diet. My favorites are the orange variety, which I think are moister, sweeter, and easier to cook. Choose firm, smooth sweet potatoes without wrinkles, sprouts or blemishes. Cook them in their skin (boiling or baking) to retain their nutrients, and then peel once they have cooled slightly or just scoop out the flesh. They are also delicious thinly sliced and baked (spread evenly on a baking sheet) with extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of salt until crispy on the outside.

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com
readers

Green Leafy Vegetables: A Natural Source of Multivitamins

credit:vegetarian-nutrition.info

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

Many of us take multivitamin supplements which may be important in maintaining general health and certainly in specific situations including poor dietary intake, low body weight, gastrointestinal diseases, vegetarian diets, and prenatal. However, when it comes to the opportunity of including natural sources of multivitamins in our diet we often give it up because we choose foods which may be deemed tastier, easier or more convenient. The foods that can really sustain us are the ones that we should strive to include in our daily diet – and leafy green vegetables are a great place to start.

Greens, especially dark green leafy vegetables, are an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and folic acid, which happen to be some of the key nutrients that women in particular need for their health. Green leafy vegetables are packed with micronutrients said to be protective against cancer and other diseases. Furthermore, a recent study has shown that increasing your consumption of green leafy vegetables by as little as an extra serving per day is one of the ways that you may be able to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Common green leafy vegetables that we often think of are spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce, and green cabbage; however, there are many exciting, though less usual choices including (in no particular order) arugula, parsley, kale, red cabbage, swiss chard, endive, radicchio, collard greens, beet greens, bok choy, and watercress. My recommendation is to try to include at least one of these foods into your daily diet which can be a simple as adding a side dish of green salad, steamed broccoli, or low fat cabbage slaw. Feel free to write to us about how you like to include greens in your meals!

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com
readers

Nutrition Supplements and Your Health: Fish Oil

http://www.grubgrade.com/

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (usually referred to as fish oil) are amongst the most commonly consumed dietary supplements and yet many people are confused about their health benefits and the extent to which they are effective in disease prevention. Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies) and plants (flaxseed, hempseed, walnuts, and linseed). Eating fish (particularly those high in omega-3 fatty acids) about twice a week is part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA, while plant sources contain ALA. It is the DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids that have been repeatedly studied in a variety of medical conditions and found to be beneficial – but not unequivocally.

There is research evidence suggesting that intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides (a type of cholesterol) and blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (especially in those people who have already suffered it beforehand). In addition, it has been suggested that fish oil supplementation may improve brain development of a growing fetus, prevent postpartum depression and improve cognition in older people; however, there really is not enough evidence to recommend fish oil supplementation for these reasons at this point in time.

All of us should strive to eat a balanced diet that includes natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, because many of us do not manage to get two good servings of fish per week, especially those oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nearly everyone could benefit from the recommended amount of EPA/DHA supplementation, unless your doctor advises against it.

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com readers

New Year’s Resolutions: Achieving Your Nutrition and Health Goals

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

How many times have you made that New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, to lose weight, or to cut down on junk food? Whatever the resolution may be, the path to success is not an easy one. There are so many potential roadblocks along the way including procrastination, family and social obligations, holidays, work demands and lack of time and energy. There are many ways to better your chances at achieving your goals; here are my top 5 pearls of wisdom:

1. Ask for help.
Giving up habits that we have developed over our lives is arguably one of the hardest tasks. If you are really serious this year about change, whatever your health goal may be, the best way to ensure success is to invest in some help.

2. Keep a journal of what you eat.
One of the biggest obstacles to changing behavior is not being aware of our habits. For example, we often overestimate how much we eat. Keeping a food diary will help you keep track of your nutrition habits, so when you go off track you will see immediately what needs to change. In addition, if you know you are recording everything you may be more conscious of what you put in your mouth.

3. Eat more vegetables.
No matter how many vegetables you are currently eating, you are likely not eating enough. One of the reasons for excessive sugar cravings is poor intake of vegetables. Our bodies require more servings of vegetables a day than any other food group. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, water, vitamins (like folic acid, vitamin A, C, E) and minerals (like potassium). Fill your plate half full of vegetables at each meal to stop from over eating on high-calorie foods.

4. Understand your weaknesses.
Everyone has a weakness whether it’s chocolate, challah, over eating, or being too lazy to cook or exercise. Work on finding a solution to your biggest weakness.

5. Get enough sleep.
Research has suggested that sleep deprivation increases appetite and over time can be associated with certain chronic diseases. Experiment for one week and see how much easier it is to be healthy and active once you have had enough sleep.

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com readers

Pomegranates: Tantalize Your Taste Buds with this Heart-Healthy New Year Fruit

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

I was lucky enough to be in Israel recently and to visit a beautiful nature reserve where several of the 7 species were growing. The pomegranates with their unusual and exotic red bulb-like appearance caught my attention because they are truly magnificent looking. Next week, many of us will be eating this amazing fruit at our Rosh Hashanah tables; however, year-round in the United States, you can’t walk into a regular store without being confronted with bottles and containers in different shapes and sizes filled with various concoctions of pomegranate juice. Whilst it can be tempting to buy these products, especially on a hot day, you might as well hold off for the real deal—natural, in-season, and fresh pomegranates.

Because of its numerous health benefits, pomegranate juice is one of the most heart-healthy fruit juices. Pomegranate juice is an excellent source of vitamin C. In addition, pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in various other foods including blueberries, cranberries, and other fruits and vegetables. Some studies in humans have shown that pomegranate juice has significant antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory effects. The role of oxidative stress and inflammation in human health and disease, and the protective effects of dietary antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds is the subject of ongoing research. In the meantime, including some pomegranate juice in your diet from time to time is highly recommended.

Remember that you can drink the juice or eat the seeds of pomegranates to benefit from its nutrients. Packed inside each pomegranate are hundreds of bright red seeds, which are juicy, sweet, tart, crunchy, and full of fiber. It is easy to split the hard fruit open, scoop out the red seeds and then use them as sprinkling on your vegetables, salads, soups, or meat dishes. My personal favorite way to enjoy the seeds is to add them to Greek yogurt with a dash of raw honey. How’s that for a power-packed New Year breakfast!

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com readers

Honey: Our Superfood for the New Year

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

One of my favorite items on the table over the high holy days is honey. I relish the opportunity to spread it over challah, apple slices or anything else I can get my hands on (as my husband will attest to). There are so many varieties of honey depending on which flower the nectar is collected from, and each has a rather distinctive flavor. My favorites are clover, wildflower, orange, and Manuka honey from New Zealand.

Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugars, mainly fructose and glucose, with very little vitamins or minerals. Despite its reputation as being “just another calorie-loaded sweetener”, honey, particularly raw honey, is full of phytonutrients that are responsible for its anti-infective and anti-cancer properties. Raw honey, honey that has not been heated, is totally unprocessed, and still contains naturally-occurring pollen, honeycomb, live enzymes, and is high in antioxidants. Thus it is a true superfood; in addition, it can be used as a natural antiseptic and an aid for healing wounds when applied to the skin.

Most honeys found in the supermarket are not raw honey but commercial-grade honey, which has been heated and processed so that it looks cleaner and smoother, and is easier to pour and spread. Therefore, commercial honey is not as nutritious as raw honey. That said, even if we choose to buy commercial- grade honey this Rosh Hashanah whether for spreading, dipping or baking, we are still making the choice to use a sweetener that is a little less processed, has a much more distinctive flavor, and adds a moister quality to baked goods, than does cane sugar. But the best news about using honey is that a little bit goes a long way!

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com readers

Healthier Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners

health-syrup
By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

The other day I met a friend at a new café that recently opened in the city, and discovered the most delicious iced tea that probably exists—fruity sangria iced tea. It was available sweetened or unsweetened, so I opted for the unsweetened version, which was tasty by itself, and even more so with a dash of honey. Indulging in sweetened ice teas and other flavored drinks are part of surviving the summer, because they are so refreshing; however, many of us opt for drinks that contain unhealthy sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or dextrose. I call them unhealthy because they are either artificial chemicals or chemical manipulations of natural products. Even plain old white sugar, which is a highly refined and processed form of sugar cane, is probably better than some of these.

Start experimenting with alternative healthier sweeteners both in your drinks and even in your baking. Some of the best ones to start with are: agave nectar, brown rice syrup, date sugar, honey, and maple syrup.

Many people think of maple syrup as that “fattening sauce I add to my pancakes”; however, in actual fact, natural and pure maple syrup is simply made from boiled-down maple tree sap. In addition, pure maple syrup contains many minerals, vitamins and amino acids. One table spoon of maple syrup contains about 50 calories, which is a little less than in a tablespoon of honey. Maple syrup will provide a really unique flavor to your drinks and baking and trust me you are going to love it!

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com readers

Summer Eating: Tips for Staying Healthy, Cool, and Trim

watermelon

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com

Eat more cooling foods

On really hot days do you find that your appetite disappears, except of course for ice cream? The main reason we crave ice cream in summer is because of its cooling affect on the body. Our bodies are trying to tell us that they require cool foods and liquids, and so the first thing we think of is our favorite creamy and cold treat. But, many of us are addicted to sugar, and before we know it we have eaten the whole carton of Häagen-Dazs. Instead, why not try to satisfy your cravings with light, healthy foods such as fruit salad and yogurt, hearty salads, cold soups, smoothies, and fresh fruit and vegetable juices? Of course sometimes we just need to have our ice cream, but aim for moderation by sticking to small pre-packaged portions to avoid overindulging.

Eat more raw foods

Worldwide distribution of food makes fruits and vegetables available year-round; however, the freshest and most nutritionally dense foods are those locally grown and in season. Notice that many different types of fruits, berries, salad greens, cucumbers, peas, as well as green beans, summer squash, and tomatoes, all come into season in the warmer months. These foods are delicious eaten raw on their own or added to salads, and in this way they will have a cooling effect on your body, which is exactly what we need in order to deal with those hot summer days. The best part about eating more raw seasonal produce is that the preparation is quick and the calorie content of these foods is relatively low.

Eat foods with high water content

Let’s face it – on a scorching summer day the last thing you need is a heavy or salty meal which may cause you to feel sluggish and thirsty. Many seasonal fruits and vegetables are filling and hydrating at the same time, so you won’t feel hungry or thirsty. This summer, experiment with produce and recipes that have high water content. For example, snack on fresh berries, melons, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, or add these to your salads. Chilled soups like gazpacho, summer squash, or cucumber soup that contain lots of liquid will keep you cool and will satisfy your thirst. My personal favorite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is chilled watermelon with lime, mint, and a dash of honey.

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
www.nutritionthroughlife.com
simone.stromer@gmail.com
Free one hour initial health and nutrition consultation for gourmetkoshercooking.com readers