Archive for ‘Get to Know Your Food’

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

August 5, 2019

Should Soy Stay or Should it Go?

Should soy stay or should it go? When my children were young, we discovered they were allergic to cow’s milk. I switched them to soy. Now, when I see headlines describing the dangers of soy, I wonder whether I did them a great disservice.

Soy is present in many prepared foods. It’s eagerly embraced by some adopters of a plant-based diet because it is filled with high-quality protein and nutrients including B vitamins, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Soy protein contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own making it a “complete” protein. These facts make soy sound like a great food.
soy
But, like eggs, soy has its detractors. Some animal studies have shown that high dosages of isoflavone or isolated soy protein extracts tend to stimulate breast cancer growth. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens that function similarly to human estrogen (a hormone) but with weaker effects. Isoflavones may also alter the behavior of estrogen receptors thereby affecting hormone balance.

Hormone balance affects mood, libido, weight, sleep quality, and energy levels. Life is both healthier and more pleasant when we maintain the proper balance. Any alteration of hormone balance through intentional disruption brings risks whether it’s hormone-based birth control, hormone replacement therapy, or dietary estrogens.

A study of 3700 Japanese-American men in Hawaii who consumed large amounts of tofu during middle-age showed a significant association with greater cognitive impairment and brain atrophy in late life compared with men with the lowest tofu intakes. On the flip side, a study of Asian women showed that soy foods sometimes reduced the risk of breast cancer.

In fact, there are numerous soy studies with conflicting results. At a glance, it’s hard to determine whether soy contributes to or reduces the risk of breast cancer. The relationship with dementia is not certain either.

Soy foods are not the only foods that contain phytoestrogens or dietary estrogens. Flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, apples, cranberries, grapes, pomegranates, strawberries, carrots, lentils, yams, mung beans, sprouts, barley, oats, wheat germ, coffee, bourbon, beer, red wine, and olive oil all contain phytoestrogens. We don’t think of most of those as harmful, but all phytoestrogens are not created equal or used by the body in the same way.

More than likely, there are many factors that determine whether soy will detrimentally affect you–ethnicity, hormone levels, type of soy, age and frequency of ingestion, interaction with medications, etc. With no definitive way to know whether phytoestrogens put you at risk, it is probably best to consume soy in moderation.

If you choose packaged foods, be sure to read the labels. You’ll often find soy in unexpected places. If you are eating a plant-based diet, you may want to limit tofu. And with all of the non-dairy milk options, there’s really no reason to rely on soy.

When you do eat soy, less processing is always better. I love edamame. Every few months I’ll have some for dinner two or three times in a week. Then I don’t think about it again for months.

With no consistent, definitive science to rely on at this time, consuming soy has to be a matter of choice. For now I’m choosing stay, but in deliberate moderation. Only time will tell whether my choices will harm my children or me. In the meantime, I’ll probably keep asking: Should soy stay or should it go?

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1345/aph.10257

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635581.2017.1250924

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2000.10718923

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781234/

The following is an extensive review of soy research. Please be aware that it was funded by The European Soy and Plant-based Foods Manufacturers Association, and the author is the executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute, an organization funded by the United Soybean Board and its soy industry members.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188409/

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

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/page/3/?s=soy
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October 22, 2018

Allergen Free Halloween Treats You Can Share With The Class

If you’re looking for allergen free Halloween Treats you can share with your child’s class, we have a few for you to consider. It can be hard to find treats that are free of all the major allergens, but when it comes to sharing with classmates, you don’t want anyone to be left out. Luckily, this year there are some fun options available!

Sweets Indeed has packaged various forms of candy in vials with Halloween themed names. The vials come in packs of 12. Some are a mixture of liquid and pellet candies. Some have crystals and powder. All of them look like great fun!

At this moment, it’s less expensive to purchase these items from Amazon than it is direct from Sweets. A 12 pack is $14.95 on Amazon and $19.95 from Sweets.
blood
Blood Sweet Candy

The Blood Sweet Candy set includes 6 vials of Blood Sample Sour Cherry Liquid Candy and 6 vials of Blood Clots Wild Cherry Candy Pebbles

The vials look gruesome and gross just like kids prefer! With sugar, corn syrup, and fructose as the main ingredients, I won’t say these are healthy treats, but few Halloween treats are.

Ingredients
Candy Pebbles: Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors

Liquid Candy: Corn Syrup, Fructose, Water, Sugar, Malic Acid, Artificial Flavors & Colors, Natural Mica based Titanium Dioxide Pigments

https://www.shopsweetsindeed.com/products/bloody-sweet-candy-12-pack

monster
Monster Fun Candy

The Monster Fun set is comprised of 2 vials of Vampire Blood Black Cherry Liquid Candy, 2 vials of Monster Slime Green Apple Liquid Candy, 2 vials of Witches Potion Grape Liquid Candy, 2 vials of Jack’s Ashes Orange Candy Powder, 2 vials of Devil Dust Strawberry Candy Powder, and 2 vials of Werewolf Dandruff Root Beer Candy Powder.

Ingredients
Candy Powder: Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors, Natural Mica based Titanium Dioxide Pigments

Liquid Candy: Corn Syrup, Fructose, Water, Sugar, Malic Acid, Artificial Flavors & Colors, Natural Mica based Titanium Dioxide Pigments

https://www.shopsweetsindeed.com/collections/halloween/products/monster-fun-candy-12-pack

Ghost
Ghost Fun Candy

If you choose Ghost Fun, you’ll get 6 vials of Ghost Toot Dust Vanilla Candy Powder plus 6 vials of Ghost Boogers Vanilla Candy Pebbles.

Ingredients
Candy Pebbles: Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors

Candy Powder: Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors, Natural Mica based Titanium Dioxide Pigments

https://www.shopsweetsindeed.com/collections/halloween/products/ghost-fun-candy-12-pack

undeadZombie Fun Candy

Can candy be undead? I guess it can. Order Zombie Fun and get 6 vials of Zombie Toot Dust Sour Apple Candy Powder and 6 vials of Zombie Boogers Green Apple Candy Powder.

Ingredients
Candy Pebbles: Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors

Candy Powder: Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors, Natural Mica based Titanium Dioxide Pigments

https://www.shopsweetsindeed.com/collections/halloween/products/zombie-fun-candy-12-pack

unicorn
Unicorn Boogers

What kid hasn’t eaten boogers? Now it can be a parent sanctioned activity! Unicorn Boogers include Fruity Candy Pebbles along with Sugar Crystals. The candy pebbles flavors are key lime, lemonade, watermelon, wild berry, tangerine and blue raspberry. Then there are glimmer white sugar crystals. Apparently Boogers come at a premium. They’re $21.95 for 12 vials from either Sweets or Amazon.

Ingredients
Sugar, Dextrose, Dextrin, Malic Acid, Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors & Colors

https://www.shopsweetsindeed.com/products/unicorn-boogers-8-pack

Zombie Bawlz

Your treats don’t have to come in vials. Zombie Bawlz Chewy Fruit Sours come in a bag filled with Cherry, Watermelon and Green Apple chewy flavors. They’re $10 per bag from Sweets. On Amazon, you can get two bags for that amount of money.

Ingredients
Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dextrose, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Citrate, Carnuba Wax, Bees Wax, Confectioner’s Glaze, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 Lake, Red #40, Red #40 Lake, Blue #1, Blue #2 Lake

https://www.shopsweetsindeed.com/products/zombie-bawlz

If none of these treats appeal to you, Sixlets® offers 3 flavors of gluten-free, nut-free, kosher candies that contain no artificial colors or sweeteners. It should be noted that these candies do contain milk and soy.

A box of 72 tubes can be purchased from Amazon for $13.07 and is eligible for Prime shipping. Each tube has 23 calories. Choose from Original Sixlets Chocolatey Candies, Chewy Sixlets Fruity Flavored Candies, and Fruity Sixlets Chocolatey Candies.

The original flavor features a chocolatey center containing cocoa and carob and a crunchy candy coating. Chewy Sixlets Fruity Flavored Candies come in Lemon, Orange, Cherry, Blue Raspberry, and Green Apple. You can enjoy Fruity Sixlets Chocolatey Candies in Blueberry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Banana, Orange flavor.

https://sixlets.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw6rXeBRD3ARIsAD9ni9AQfHbJuL0jMrH1pPCZ4aeIMDxXnpGtY0N95QZE2CMVhoggoFGW0QwaAgSnEALw_wcB

With Halloween more than a week away, there’s plenty of time to get your treats ordered and delivered in time. Choosing treats with fewer allergens is a thoughtful and kind gesture for you to make to your child’s allergic classmates.

Happy Halloween!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/halloween-treats-dont-candy/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/trick-or-treat/

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July 31, 2018

Eating Her Curds and Whey

spiderSpiders may not be the current danger for Little Miss Muffet when she eats her curds and whey. Last week, several snack cracker recalls centered around possible salmonella contamination of the ingredient whey. If you’re familiar with the nursery rhyme, you probably instinctively associate whey with milk or milk products, but what exactly is it?

Whey is the liquid that remains after you strain curdled milk. In food manufacturing, it is a byproduct of making cheese. Cheddar and Swiss cheeses leave sweet whey and cottage cheese and yogurt leave acid or sour whey.

When cheese was made at home, the remaining whey could be substituted for milk in baking. Even now, I sometimes use the liquid from yogurt in baked goods. Whey was also consumed as a beverage with honey and alcohol.

In US commercial food manufacturing, whey was a waste product dumped into rivers until the US government prohibited such dumping. Faced with a disposal problem, manufacturers began to look for other ways to use it. They first developed a filler for ice cream.

hawaiianWhey’s use as a filler in convenience foods grew from there. It is now found in products that may or may not have inhabited my snack bin – things like King’s Hawaiian Bread, Cheetos, Ritz Sandwich Crackers, Goldfish Crackers, Nature Valley Protein Bars, Luna Protein Bars, Oatmega Protein Bars, Swiss Rolls, and Similac Pro-Advance Infant Formula. Whey has also become a nutritional supplement popular with bodybuilders because of its leucine content.

The primary components of whey are water, lactose, protein, fat, and amino acids. The proteins include beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins.

Three types of whey protein are produced in the food industry – Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, and Hydrolyzed Whey Protein. In theory, whey protein isolate can be safely consumed if you have lactose intolerance, but other forms of whey protein may cause symptoms.

Like most milk in the grocery store, the whey contained in convenience foods is typically pasteurized to make it less likely to harbor bacteria and safer to consume. Unfortunately, as we have recently seen, it can still become contaminated during manufacturing or packaging.

It’s no secret that I prefer fresh food prepared at home. I think it tastes better, and I feel better knowing what’s in the food. Of course that doesn’t mean that all my food will be free from a risk of salmonella, listeria, E. coli, or other contaminants.

And real life means that I sometimes reach for convenience foods. Of course, I read the labels. I have to make sure they’re free of gluten and shrimp. Right now, I’m making sure they’re free of whey.

https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/

http://wheyproteininstitute.org/facts/howwheyismade/wheyproteincomponents

http://www.liquidirish.com/2012/05/whey-alcohol.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whey-protein-101#what-is-it

https://www.ampi.com/home/page/130

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”