September 16, 2019

Watching Football Makes Us Hungry for Tailgate Food!

Watching football makes us hungry for tailgate food even though we’re at home! As the teams settle into conference play, we can easily spend a whole day in front of the TV. No one wants to cook, but we all want to eat. Taking the tailgate approach not only makes us feel more like we’re at the game in person, it means we have food ready so that all we have to do is watch and yell…a lot!
football
When we actually tailgate, we coordinate with our friends to decide who will bring what and then we do the prep in advance. This approach works well when friends or family gather in front of a big screen. Instead of the burden falling on whoever has the biggest screen, food prep can be treated the same way it would be if you were meeting at your favorite tailgate spot.

Sometimes, we ask that the contributions follow a certain theme. Other times, it’s a free for all. Next week, the theme is peanuts. Don’t worry. There are no peanut allergies within the circle of invitees.

This theme is a throwback to Sunday nights from my childhood. My parents had a group of friends who met after church every Sunday for snacks and conversation. At some point, multiple people brought desserts containing peanut butter for several weeks in a row. From then on, the group was known as the Peanut Butter Club.

As host, I like to provide a substantial central dish. To keep with the peanut theme, I’m considering chicken satay with peanut sauce or African peanut soup. I like the idea of chicken on a skewer, but I also like the idea of a soup I can cook in and serve from a slow cooker.

We’ll want to include some lighter foods. A Thai chopped salad filled with veggies and topped with a peanut drizzle fills the bill. This can be easily served build-your-own style. A fruit tray with peanut butter dip is also a great choice.

This theme makes it easy for those who don’t want to cook. Mixed nuts, trail mix, Reese’s Pieces, or peanut butter cups can all be grabbed on the way to a party. Peanut butter stuffed pretzels are also relatively easy to find. Jif® offers Chocolate Poppers-a bag filled with peanut butter-coated popcorn and chocolate flavored covered pretzels-for a crunchy, sweet variation.
cookies
Classic peanut butter cookies can be an easy gluten-free dessert. Our Cooking2Thrive recipe adds some jelly to become PB & J cookies. Here’s the recipe:
Cooking2Thrive PB&J Cookies
About 25 cookies

Ingredients
Baking parchment
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (peanuts & salt)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp Concord grape jelly + 2 tbsp additional for topping
Water

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350º. Line cookie sheet with baking parchment.

In medium bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter, salt, and egg. Mix well, then stir in 1 1/2 tbsp jelly. Form dough into small balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. Place balls on cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Put water in a small cup. Dip a fork in the water and use it to press each ball flat, then press each ball with the fork a second time at a 90º angle to the first pressing.

Bake in 350º for 10-12 minutes. Remove parchment to cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from parchment directly onto rack. Once completely cool, top each cookie with 1/4 tsp grape jelly.

While I know we’ll enjoy this peanut theme, we’re not the Peanut Butter Tailgate Club. We like variety too much. The rest of the season may include burgers and brats, mac & cheese, pulled pork with vinegar coleslaw, nachos & cheese dip or enchiladas and guacamole. Whatever the theme, the food will be delicious.

Watching football makes us hungry for tailgate food, but the real focus this fall is on the game itself! Roll Tide, go Hogs, Tigers x 3, Gamecocks, Volunteers, Rebels, Bulldogs x 2, Wildcats, Commodores, Aggies, and Gators! Yes, I favor the SEC. I can’t help it. Those roots go deeper than the Peanut Butter Club!
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September 9, 2019

Please Don’t Kiss the Chickens!

Please don’t kiss the chickens! Not only do we have a new rooster in the neighborhood, the CDC has warned me not to kiss it. As if I would. I know better. I grew up on a farm. I do not kiss chickens or play with piglets when the mother is around. An angry sow targeted me for death when I was three. I barely escaped and I still remember it. That was enough piglet playing for me.

Most of us are aware we should be careful when cooking eggs or chicken, but we may not think twice before taking a cute photo of the kids kissing a baby chick. It is time to think twice.
chicken
On August 30th, the CDC issued an investigation notice regarding several multi-state outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry. At the time there were 1003 infections across 49 states resulting in 175 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. By now, there may be more.

Salmonella can cause mild, severe, or life threatening diarrhea depending on the person infected. Chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys can contaminate their feathers, feet, beaks, and environment with salmonella even when they appear healthy and clean. People can get sick from touching coops, cages, hay, soil, feed, water dishes, and anything else in the bird’s environment even if they don’t touch the birds.

What I learned on the farm is that animals are carriers of disease so certain rules must be followed. The boots we wore in the barn came off in the utility room so we didn’t track contaminated soil into the house. Even if we had worn gloves, hands were washed thoroughly when we came in and always before cooking or eating. We wore shoes in the yard if we had dogs.

We washed our vegetables and fruits as a matter of routine. I never saw my grandmother sample a tomato or a piece of lettuce without washing it first. When we picked apples, we weren’t allowed to eat them until we got home. Huckleberries, blackberries, and strawberries had the same rule. We never placed raw meat on the same surface as the vegetables we were prepping.

As a child, I did not pick up wild animals that were sick even if they were teeny tiny and cute. If I saw a bat or possum during the day, I stayed away out of caution. That doesn’t mean I was taught to be fearful. I walked through a line of honeybees every time I went down the driveway. I didn’t run if I saw a spider or a snake as long as I determined it wasn’t poisonous.

Today, there seems to be a disconnect from these common sense rules. I now live in the city where if it’s cute most folks I know will let their kids pick it up and kiss it with no thought whatsoever. They’ll eat berries out of the farmer’s market crate without cleaning hands or fruit. But if they see a snake, bee, spider, or wasp of any kind, they run without ever looking to see whether it’s dangerous.

And there are other disconnects. Some friends who will only buy organic vegetables are quick to use wasp spray on their houses, insect spray on their skin, and Roundup® on their yards.
chickens
Perhaps a few common sense rules for disease prevention bear repeating:

Always wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water:
(Adults should supervise the hand washing of young children.)
Before eating and after using the bathroom.
After changing diapers or cleaning your toddler’s bottom.
Before preparing food, during food preparation after handling meat, eggs, poultry, fish, and seafood and again when food prep is done.
Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
Before and after visiting a hospital room.
After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing or cleaning a child’s nose.
After touching animals, animal food, animal waste, animal blankets, saddles, leashes, bedding, or hay.
After handling pet food or pet treats.
After touching trash.

To prevent spread of colds, flu, stomach viruses, hand foot & mouth disease and other illness spread through close contact:
Do not share cups and eating utensils.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home (including toys), at work, and at school.
Follow hand washing recommendations and/or use hand sanitizer after contact with public handrails, door knobs, touchscreens, pens, shopping carts, elevators, remotes, vending machines, and shared keyboards and phones.
Stay home when you are sick.
Keep your child home when he is sick.
As often as possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth especially when you are around someone who has a cold or flu.

To lessen the risk of giardia, cryptosporidium, campylobacter jejuni, E. coli, legionella pneumophila, hepatitis A, and salmonella:
Do not drink water from standing bodies of water or any water that may be contaminated with feces.
Try not to swallow water when swimming even in chlorinated pools.
Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Follow hand washing recommendations.
Follow USDA recommendations for safe food handling.
Cook meat to the recommended temperature.
Pay attention to food recalls.
Keep farm animals out of the house.
Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.
Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for animals such as cages and feed or water containers.
Don’t eat after your pets.

Avoid hookworms by:
Wearing shoes when walking outdoors, especially in places that may have feces in the soil.

To avoid hepatitis B, rotavirus, diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumococcal infections, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, chickenpox, meningitis, and HPV:
Stay up-to-date on long-lasting vaccinations and consider seasonal flu shots.

To lessen the risk of rabies:
Vaccinate your pets.
Leave stray cats and dogs alone.
Leave wild animals alone. Don’t keep them as pets.
Wash animal bites and scratches immediately with soap and water.
Consult a healthcare professional if you are bitten or scratched by an unvaccinated animal.

To lessen the risk of any illness:
Keep your body healthy, robust, and ready to fight disease by getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, eating nutritious food, being physically active, and managing stress levels.

And finally, it’s worth taking a moment to learn about the organisms with whom we share the planet. All spiders and bees are not to be feared and all furry creatures are not safe to embrace. If you’re determined to kill all insects anyway, please remember that poison is poison whether it goes on your skin, your yard, or your food.

If you want to choose a single piece of advice to help prevent disease, take it from the CDC and please don’t kiss the chickens!

https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-05-19/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/food-safety/live-poultry-salmonella/live-poultry-salmonella.html

https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=safety/

Holiday Baking – Keep it Safe!

September 3, 2019

Can Yoga Help Digestion?

Can yoga help digestion? If you have an easily irritated digestive system, you may be willing to try anything. Yoga instructors often say, “This twist will wring out the internal organs and help digestion.” But is that true? Can yoga really help digestion?

The short answer is, yes!

The long answer is, of course, more involved. It’s not as simple as joining a yoga class at a local studio or “wringing out” your organs with twists. Even if you practice every day, your digestion may or may not improve. In order to experience specific medical benefits, it is best to seek out Medical Yoga Therapy.

Medical Yoga Therapy or “Yoga Chikitsa” is the dynamic state of physical and mental ease, coupled with spiritual well-being and is defined as the use of yoga practices for the prevention and potential treatment of medical conditions. It begins with an assessment from a health practitioner that includes a detailed history and physical exam.

Following the history and physical exam, a yoga prescription is designed using an individualized, personalized and holistic approach that takes into account the patient’s mind, body and spirit as well as his family, support network, work situation, and culture as part of the treatment plan. This sounds like the pinnacle of Patient and Family Centered Care!

The potential for yoga to relieve digestive problems may lie in its effect on the parasympathetic nervous system and its potential to reduce chronic inflammation. When we experience stress, our blood flow pattern changes. One of the results of this is decreased digestive system activity due to reduced blood flow. In contrast, the parasympathetic system stimulates blood flow to the digestive system. Supporting the parasympathetic nervous system through yoga can benefit this process.

Chronic inflammation can result from a state of chronic stress and slowly damage systems in the body. Yoga can change the experience of stress resulting in fewer inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and inflammatory cytokines in the blood and increased levels of multiple immunoglobulins and natural killer cells. A regular yoga practice can also result in higher levels of the natural inflammation alleviating chemicals leptin and adiponectin.

Yoga can also facilitate restful sleep. Healing damaged systems requires energy. Supporting the body through rest and sleep changes the experience of stress while building energy reserves and restoring circadian rhythms.

All of these positive effects indicate yoga is a viable option if you’re looking for an alternative to medication to help digestion. Just know it may take more than a few simple twists.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5332914/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-science-of-sleep-understanding-what-happens-when-you-sleep

Mindfulness Intentions for the New Year

Notice What Feels Good to Improve the Feeling in Your Gut

August 27, 2019

Learn the Rules Before You Break the Rules

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

Learn the rules before you begin to deviate from them. A version of this quote was often heard throughout the graphic design community, the art community, and the print community when I began my previous career. My colleagues and I took it to heart. We recognized the wisdom in thoroughly understanding how and why things were done a certain way before we began to innovate. Without that understanding as a foundation, we simply could not know how to maximize the capacity of available equipment to deliver a superior product. When it comes to improving our health through diet, a solid foundation of knowledge is equally important for achieving optimal results.

This knowledge is also much more difficult to amass. Watch a few documentaries regarding diet, read a few NIH studies, or even watch TV news for a week and you’ll hear a plethora of conflicting information. So what rules should you pay attention to?
salad
Begin with things you know or regularly experience. If you break out in a rash when you eat corn chips. Eliminate corn chips. Experiment with other corn products. If you have the same reaction, eliminate corn entirely. If you have intestinal spasms after drinking milk or eating cheese, eliminate milk and cheese. You can try A2 milk and yogurt to determine whether you can tolerate those. Eliminate any offender.

Expect this process to take time. You will need to avoid a food for at least a week before trying it again. If you are eliminating gluten, you will need to eliminate it for a year in order to allow your body to heal from all possible prior damage.

Sometimes an adverse response comes from a preservative or other food additive rather than the food itself. Keeping a journal will help you piece together meaningful results over time.

If you happen to discover that you are sensitive to fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAPs), you will need to know more about foods containing these sugars. There are many resources for this information. I prefer the ease of using the downloadable PDF list comprised by ibsdiets.org.

No matter what list you choose, your individual experience may differ slightly. I can eat black beans in large amounts with no ill effects, but if I eat even a few black-eyed peas I am miserable.

Once you eliminate foods to which you are sensitive or allergic, you’ll be left with a pool of food in which to find those that provide a wide variety of nutrients and that you enjoy. Begin with learning about foods you like since you’re most likely to choose them on a regular basis.

You don’t necessarily need to research each and every specific food. If you make balance the overall goal, you can just familiarize yourself with categories. My grandmother used to insist that your plate have a variety of colors. Simply following that rule of thumb will result in a more balanced diet than many of us currently consume.

A healthy diet will contain a mix of protein (75 – 100 grams per day, 300 – 400 calories), carbohydrates (60 – 80 grams + per day, 240 – 320 calories minimum), fat (63 – 97 grams per day, 567 – 873 calories), vitamins, minerals and water. Water needs are affected by weight, age, temperature, electrolyte balance, intake of caffeine, intake of sugar, physical activity, the surrounding environment, health conditions, and pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Average adequate water intake per day for a woman living in a temperate climate is 9 cups. Average adequate intake per day for a man living in a temperate climate is 13 cups. Toddlers ages one to three need about 44 ounces or 1.52 ounces of water per pound of body weight. Boys and girls aged 4-8 years need 1.1 to 1.3 liters per day. Girls ages 9-13 years need 1.3 to 1.5 liters per day. Boys ages 9-13 years need 1.5 to 1.7 liters per day.

Common sources of protein are meat, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, nuts, beans, milk, and some grains. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Fat is found in meat, some fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, bacon, cheese, lard, shortening, nuts & nut butters, avocados, whole milk, butter, cod liver oil, coconut oil and vegetable oils. Fresh food as free from chemicals as possible is ideal. That’s really all the rules you need for a healthy diet.

The problem is that many of us get caught up in a calorie focussed regimen or a diet that favors protein over carbs, plants over meat, or seeks to eliminate fats without really knowing what our body needs and what will help it function best. In other words, we break the rules before we ever learn them.

When knowledge is lacking, we are more easily swayed by marketing. Some diet plans perpetuate misinformation that sounds good on the surface and other ideas seem to take on a life of their own. Here are a few misconceptions that have taken hold:
All plant-based food is healthy.
No, processed food that is “plant-based” is still processed food and therefore not as healthy as fresh food.

Food is healthier if it’s gluten-free.
No, gluten-free food can be extremely healthy as in the case of fresh spinach or extremely unhealthy as in the case of a bowl full of sugar. There is nothing inherently healthy about gluten-free food.

All carbohydrates should be severely limited.
No, vegetables are full of carbohydrates. Some diets eliminate carrots along with cupcakes. You may lose weight faster if you limit all carbs, but if you don’t understand the nutritional difference, you may opt for cupcakes by reasoning carbs are carbs (calories are calories) when you decide to choose carbs.

Whole milk should be avoided because of the saturated fat content.
Science says no. Studies show that consumption of high-fat dairy products is associated with a lower risk for obesity. There are no studies supporting the assumption that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease.

Bread is good for you because it has vitamins & minerals.
Well, there are better sources. The flour used in commercial breads is processed to the degree that it has virtually no nutrients, then specific nutrients are replaced to restore the nutrition that was lost. This is called enriching. It is not necessarily the most effective way to consume those nutrients.

Salads are always a low-calorie choice.
Not automatically. A salad can be low in calories or high in calories depending on the toppings, as well as type and amount of dressing used.

If you have specific health issues other than allergies or sensitivities that you’d like to address through diet, it’s best to begin with overall balance over a long enough period of time to let your body adjust before making changes. Then it’s good to be sure of your goals and approach. In other words, learn the rules for a plan that will help you meet those goals before you break any rules that may risk tipping the overall balance.

Not every metabolism is the same. Some people require more protein than others. Some people need more carbohydrates. Some people require a precise balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat at each meal to function at optimum level. It is okay to create an eating plan that allows for your individual lifestyle, needs, and taste preferences. Before you begin, it’s important to recognize that learning the rules before breaking them can help you reach your health goals more quickly.

https://www.ibsdiets.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/IBSDiets-FODMAP-chart.pdf

https://www.aboutibs.org/low-fodmap-diet/what-are-fodmaps.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/

Lunch, Dinner, and Snack Foods that Support a Healthy Lifestyle