Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2013

101 THINGS TO DO WITH A STEAMER

I have often considered writing a cookbook entitled "101 Things to Do with a Steamer." But there is really only one: to cook a lot of vegetables, preferably at the same time.

Most vegetables require only 5 minutes to steam. Exceptions include potatoes (10-15 minutes) and perhaps Brussels sprouts. Even veggies that are better sautéed or boiled (like cauliflower, mushrooms, onions) go well thrown into a steamer. And if you use a really big pot, you can steam enough vegetables to feed the whole family, or if it's just you and your significant other, have dinner for the week.

One of my favorite concoctions includes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, white onion, tomato, and several red potatoes. After steaming the potatoes for 10 minutes, throw in the other vegetables. Include kale or broccoli for the green effect, if you have it.

Then, mix in a can or two of beans of multi colors. Recently I used a mix of fava beans and white beans. Add olives and nutritional yeast for flavor, …

THE FORGOTTEN SEED

Though often called a grain, quinoa is not a member of the true grass family like oats and wheat. Actually, the edible portion of this quaintly spelled little bugger is more closely related to spinach and beet root and best described as a seed. As such it is gluten free and high in protein.

Found in the mountains of Bolivia and elsewhere, this healthy chenopod happens to be quite the nutrient source, high as it is in minerals, amino acids, and B vitamins. Quinoa is also a worthy source of dietary fiber and B vitamins, including folate.

This winter, when you want warm yummy comfort food, make a meal around quinoa. By using just 3 additional ingredients (I've chosen dehydrated shiitake mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and broccoli, but feel free to choose any other legume/green combination) you get a nutritional powerhouse that will feed you and your loved ones for at least a couple days to come.

Grab the biggest pot you can find. On a stove top, add 5 cups water to 2 cups quinoa. Bring …

THE VITAMIN EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Okay, that's not exactly true. Choline is not exactly a vitamin, and hardly anyone knows about it. But now that I have your attention...

Choline is an essential nutrient with a variety of important physiological functions. It is involved in cell signaling, nerve impulse transmission, and fat metabolism. Your body is able to synthesize small amounts of choline, but unless you take in enough in food, and few do, you run the risk of deficiency.

Signs and symptoms of not getting enough choline include nonspecific ones such as fatigue, insomnia, and the inability of the kidneys to concent

DEAD BUTT SYNDROME

The gluteal muscles (glutes, buttocks) are a group of three muscles (maximus, medius, minimus) that play an integral role not just in propelling you forward but in keeping your pelvis stable, none more so than the gluteus medius.

When the gluteus medius is weakened - whether through prolonged sitting, or through repetitive motion (e.g. running) in the absence of strengthening exercises - what often results is a condition known as dead butt syndrome. Dead-butt syndrome is inflammation of the gluteus medius muscle due to irritation. A weak muscle is unable to properly perform its function, which in this case is to keep the hip level. The result is pelvic instability, identifiable with the hallmark "sagged" gait, called the Trendelenburg sign in the medical community.


Dead butt syndrome and resulting pelvic tilt can cause a cascade of inflammation and irritation of adjacent muscles, which can lead to other injuries such as iliotibial band strain, plantar fasciitis, lower back …

ACTIVE RECOVERY

For the athlete, recovery from training sessions is essential. I remember being told during my days as a bodybuilder that the muscles grow when you sleep, and training too much (overtraining) can inhibit growth and slow or stall fitness gains. In my twenties I transitioned to endurance sports, and the same concept holds true. For the endurance athlete - and if you like to run, swim, bike, or even walk, that means you - rest is important to the extent that you allow your muscles to recover from a particular exercise. But rest doesn't have to mean inactivity.

Enter active recovery.

Let's say you're a triathlete. You run. You bike. You swim. You do it again. You do it a lot. So much that you begin to notice the signs of overtraining. You have difficulty sleeping. You dread your next workout session. Your resting heart rate goes up. You experience changes in appetite. You become irritable. Your sex drive diminishes. Or you have an upcoming race and begin a taper, reducing tra…

HFLC?

LFHC stands for "high fat, low carbohydrate." This is a diet some follow, including proponents of the Paleolithic approach to eating. Recommendations that we were meant to derive energy from fat and not carbohydrates, but NOT omega-6 fats (found in nuts and oils) leaves a paltry few foods to choose from, mainly animal products. Considering the bacterial contamination and pesticide residue found in animal foods, loading up on beef, fish and chicken is not a good idea.
Also, fat is a stored energy source but it is also the place where toxins are stored, like the garage of the body, and by eating the fat of animals you are  getting all their stored toxins along with that stored energy. Anyone who says that carbohydrates are not a preferred energy source and this is why the body burns them preferentially (which seems very counterintuitive to me) is implying that we should not eat fruits and many vegetables, which are predominately carbohydrates and also some of the most nutrit…

HYDRATION DURING EXERCISE

Considering the sweat rate for the average athlete - 1 liter per hour of exertion, equivalent to two pounds of body weight - it is crucial to replace fluids both during and after exercise. Losing just one or two percent of body weight (around 2 or 3 lbs) can negatively impact performance, or at least increase perceived exertion, the amount of energy it takes to move at a given pace.

However, since most fluid lost contains salt (sweat), drinking plain water does not replace electrolytes and can even make you hyponatremic. Hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, can make you feel dizzy, disoriented, nauseated, and lethargic, and in extreme cases can be deadly.

Most endurance athletes these days do no drink plain water during exercise. A mixture of sugar, water, and salt is best. Consider adding 1/2 tsp of salt for every 16 ounces of fluid, in addition to 2-4 tbsp of sugar (equivalent to 120-240 calories). The juice of a fresh-squeezed lemon can really improve the taste. This is a homemade …

GO BREADLESS

Chances are you're familiar with the phenomenon called the open-faced sandwich and have probably enjoyed a few yourself. An open sandwich is usually a slice of fresh bread with different spreads, butter, liver pate, cheese spreads, cold cuts or sausages like bratwurst. But if you enjoy these calorie bombs for lunch you'll likely wind up needing an afternoon nap. In fact, if you enjoy the combination of bread and animal products at any hour of the day the result could be disastrous to your health. Okay, okay, moderation is best in most things, but if you agree with the increasing number of experts who link animal foods with more diseases than smoking, it's best to take tremendous care about what you put in your mouth. Plants are best, and the less processed the better.

And so...sandwich lovers out there, and this includes us, we'd like to propose a variation on the open sandwich which will leave you filled with energy and replete with nutrients. And even better, it'…

"LITE" IT UP

It goes without saying that of all the disciplines running is the most natural, convenient, and enjoyable. The evidence of the senses would seem to support this assertion. Just watch kids run through the park or playground and hear their squeals of delight.

The tendency among new runners is to run as often and as much as possible, and even seasoned veterans can overdo it, courting injury. Better to emphasize quality of miles over quantity. Include the following workouts, which we call LITE training, to ensure you get the most out of your next race.

1. LONG RUN
Once a week, run the distance of your goal race, or if you are training for a marathon, run at least 75% of this distance, or 20 miles. This can be divided into two shorter runs. Long runs strengthen your legs and teach them how to efficiently use glycogen, which helps you avoid the so-called "wall" late in the race.

2. INTERVALS
Also called sprints, repeats, and fartleks, intervals are shorter distances (100 meters u…

MASH IT UP

Baby food is not just for babies. Anyone who loves mashed potatoes knows this. In fact, pureed foods can be easier to digest, since blenders do the work of your teeth and often do it better, but unfortunately pureed foods often come mixed with oils and fats and laden with salts and flavorings.

For dinner, try this:

3 sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. flaxseed
1 head of cauliflower
1 can black beans
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Wash and dice the sweet potatoes in 1-inch cubes, leaving the skin on. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil. Add the potatoes and boil uncovered for 7 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and boil for an additional 7-10 minutes, depending on preferred softness. Then strain and add to a food processor or Vitamix with the flaxseeds, avocado, black beans, and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Season to taste. Top with fresh tomatoes and onions for added kick.

This variation on mashed potatoes makes four 350-calorie servings. I…

QUICK FIX

If you've read our book, THE PARADIGM DIET, you'll know the focus is on plant foods, particularly greens (and other vegetables), beans, seeds, and sweets (fruit). Including all four of these maximally-nutritious foods in one meal is easy and delicious. Start with these ingredients:

4 cups water

1 cup red lentils (bean)

1 cup quinoa (seed)

1 cup zucchini (green)

1 cup tomatoes (sweet)

Add the water, the lentils, and the quinoa to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. By this time it should be a porridge.

Remove from stove, transfer to bowl and add fresh tomatoes and/or avocado. Season to taste. This serves four and has about 250 calories per serving. You can increase the quantity by doubling the ingredients and storing leftovers in the fridge, where they will keep for several days, though it's so delicious you'll probably eat them for tomorrow's lunch, as w…

THE PRICE OF PROTEIN

Take a stroll around your local supermarket and you will notice something rather interesting. The price of meat is around the same as the price of produce. In some cases, produce costs more! Eggs are $1.80 a dozen, while you can't buy a small box of berries for under $1.99. Chicken breast at $1 per pound for the price of apples?

How can this be?

Surely it is less costly and time consuming to pick a green out of the ground or a sweet off the tree than it is to raise an animal for slaughter then kill it, skin it, gut it, and chop it up. The latter is a multi-step process that involves hordes of (underpaid) workers in multiple locations, not to mention the hardship on the animal who is forced to be confined to a small space its entire life then be shipped over long distances to be shot in the head and sliced in half. How can the flimsy price of animal protein reflect all the food it takes to feed the beasts, who consume pounds of corn and soy per day during their regrettably brief and…

SITTING KILLS

Sitting is the new smoking. That's the gist of an article in this month's Runner's World magazine. All the hours spent parked on one's rear - whether it be on the computer, in the car, on the couch, or at the table - are implicated in an array of diseases, from heart disease and stroke to diabetes, cancer, depression, even early death. And get this: the risks associated with sitting are the same for everyone, regardless of activity level.

And so we ask you, how many hours a week do you spend on your behind? You're likely sitting as you read this, but how much time do you estimate you spend planted on your ass in a given week?

If you are like the average American, you sit an average of 64 hours per week, or 9 hours a day. And this does not include the 7 or 8 hours of nightly sleep (which puts the total at closer to 20 hours per day). And active people (regular exercisers who log the recommended 2.5 hours of weekly exercise) are just as sedentary. In fact, fitness b…

GLUTEN OR GMO: THAT'S THE REAL QUESTION

Gluten-free is one of the more recent buzzwords going around the health community and food industry. Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, among them wheat, barley, and rye, and it appears by pseudonyms in a variety of packaged, processed foods. In fact, gluten is pretty ubiquitous and can be found in your favorite items listed as modified starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, emulsifiers, caramel color, mixed tocopherols, the nonspecific "flavoring," non-dairy creamer, stabilizers, vegetable gum, and many others. What's all the fuss? Yes, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, which is characterized by the body's inability to digest this protein, can cause diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. Celiac disease involves damage to the portion of the digestive tract known as the small intestine, and it can set up sufferers for cancer down the road.

But celiac disease is relativelyrare. Only about 1 in 135 Americans have this condition, and yet take a spin aroun…

THE TWO PERCENT

The term "One Percent," in its most common definition, refers to the wealthiest Americans. Individuals who control nearly 50 percent of total financial wealth. The term is considered derogatory by most people, which is understandable: ninety-nine people in a hundred are excluded from this elite group. Issues of wealth stratification, social class, the questionable merit of most jobs and the inanity of the monetary system aside, we'd like to briefly discuss another exclusive group, one not based on the size of your bank account but on the scope of your awareness, one you can easily be a part of. Who knows, perhaps you already are.

An article featured in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine discussed the new trend among CEOs, many of whom have tossed the bacon, eggs, steak, chicken breast, milk, ice cream, and all else animal, and replaced these foods with plant-based fare. And the list is long. Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn, real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman, business magnate Rus…

AVOCADOS

We've all heard the term "healthy fats," which is used to describe overt lipids whose benefits outweigh the risks associated with their consumption. Saturated fats, found in animal products and in some plant foods (coconut, cocao) don't need to be eaten since your body can produce them from other fats. The same goes for cholesterol, which your liver makes in quantities sufficient to fulfill all the needs of metabolism. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats provide health benefits and would seem to deserve the term "healthy fats," but because research has shown an association between high fat diets and Alzheimer's disease, too much of any fat may make the term "healthy fat" a contradiction.

Besides, even within the mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, which consist mainly of vegetable foods, major differences in their nutritional profiles exist and not all of these foods should be accorded equal preference in the diet.

Take olive oil. A s…

FIGS

It's summertime, and the warm weather brings the opportunity to enjoy exotic fruits not otherwise available. Like the fig. Fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free. Figs can be part of any diet, including diabetic diets, and their high fiber content makes them ideal for weight loss and maintenance. Their unique satiny texture and seeds provides a satisfying feel and crunch. They are among the oldest fruits consumed, and historically have been viewed as aphrodisiacal due to their resemblance to the testicle.

One serving of figs is 40 grams, or about 1/4 cup. This is about 3 Calimyrna figs (green) or 4-5 Mission figs (black). Per serving figs provide about 30 grams of carbohydrates in the form of glucose and fructose, along with 5 grams of fiber - more dietary fiber per serving than most other common fresh fruits. Their mineral content is highest among most common fruits - with potassium, calcium, and iron featured prominently. Enjoy a meal of figs by eating all 12-24 that come in a…

IDEAL WEIGHT

Weight is a touchy subject, just like food preference and taste in men (or women). But this does not mean a discussion should be avoided, and because your body weight, not to mention your body fat percentage, is such a strong predictor of your health and longevity, it's a good idea to know how much you should tip the scale. What's your ideal? The Metropolitan Life Insurance company came out with a table (most recently in 1999) indicating weights (for various heights and body frames and specific for each gender) at which mortality was lowest. It would seem from this table that one's ideal body mass index is around 23. Met Life never used the word "ideal" but living a long life, in other words not dying prematurely from heart attack, cancer, stroke, and other major killers, would seem like a good thing, we dare say an ideal thing, for most. (You can calculate your own BMI here.)

Now there have been research studies like this one published in JAMA whose conclusion h…

THE WHITES

Everyone knows how important it is to eat your vegetables, and when you think of veggies what generally comes to mind? Spinach, broccoli, peas and carrots.

While it is true that green vegetables are the most nutritious foods, when piling the veggies on your plate it is advisable to choose a wide variety of colors. Foods like red peppers, squashes, eggplant, and their brightly-colored friends each boast different nutrient profiles based on the pigment of their skin.

But what about white vegetables? Sadly, they don't get the press (or intake) they deserve.



U.S. dietary guidance tells us to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green, orange, red, and starchy vegetables. However, no such recommendation exists for the whites, a group that includes potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, onions, parsnips, mushrooms, corn, and kohlrabi.

There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating how adding one or more of these vegetables can increase …

THE 30-SERVING PLAN

Efforts have been made to standardize the American diet and steer it away from fast foods, high fat animal products, and refined carbohydrate. Thus the USDA recommendations. The current My Plate features 6 food groups. They are fruits, vegetables, protein foods, grains, dairy, and oils (optional).
If in order to meet the definition for food an edible must provide nourishment that outweighs the potential detriments associated with it, then half of these groups don't count. There are risks associated with eating grains (weight gain, inflammation, sensitivities) and dairy (osteoporosis, kidney stones, cancer), while oils provide empty calories you can easily wind up wearing around your waist.

The focus instead should be on fruits, vegetables, and so-called protein foods, which include beans and peas as well as a moderate amount of seeds. The USDA recommends 11 servings of these foods, but diets that avoid dairy, meat, nuts, grains, and oils can easily double the recommended intake…

FRUIT IS YOUR FRIEND

 Fruit is nature's prize. It is sweet, delicious, juicy, convenient and, exotic fruits and berries aside, generally affordable.

Think of it in the grand picture. What is the purpose of fruit, that love child of the tree? Just as peacocks and other animals (including humans) try to increase fitness by appearing as physically appealing as possible, trees also have an interest in perpetuation of their species, and to this end they create the most colorful, juiciest, sweetest bulbs of pleasure they can, encasing in them their seeds, in the hopes that animals (not just squirrels but us too) will be enticed by them, eat them, maybe transport them, possibly discard them in fertile ground, and in months years or decades, a new tree will spring. And the new tree, with its green leaves, converts carbon dioxide to oxygen for us to breathe. And so the cycle of life perpetuates itself.

It's sometimes difficult to remember this if you don't garden or have a tree or at times pick you…