Romaine Lettuce Taco Wraps

WITH SWEET-LIME DRESSING  

A new idea for Taco Tuesdays. The best part of this ultra-nutritious recipe is the homemade dressing. 

Simple, easy and delicious!!

Ingredients

Serves 6

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 large limes)

Optional: 1 teaspoon lime zest

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 scallions, minced  

1 teaspoon ground cumin  

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 pinch sea salt

For the taco wraps:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 (15-ounce) can no sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small red onion, diced

1 small green bell pepper, diced

½ of a jalapeno pepper or more if you like it spicier

1-2 cherry bomb peppers

3 cups cooked farro or short grain brown rice

2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

Spices: 1 pinch of fine sea salt, ground black pepper and granulated garlic

12 Colorado grown romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed thoroughly

Optional Toppings:

The Taco – local hot sauce from the Seed Ranch

Diced avocado

Pico de gallo fresh salsa

Directions: 

1. Add all ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend thoroughly.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, red onion, peppers (hot and mild) and spices. Cook until vegetables are soft, approximately 5-8 minutes. 

3. Add in cooked rice, fresh cilantro and the dressing. Stir well until combined.

4. To assemble the tacos, add one heaping scoop of the vegetable mixture to a leaf of lettuce. If desired, Top with avocadoes, salsa and hot sauce. Fold over like a taco. Enjoy!

Adapted from: thekitchn – Swiss Chard Taco Wraps with Cumin-Lime Sauce

Good Mood Trail Mix – 4 Ways

Healthy snacks that make you feel “Oh so good!”

May is Mental Health Awareness month. Your mood is part of your mental well-being and what you eat can have a significant impact on how you think and feel. 

Most of us know about foods that can affect our mood in a not-so-good way like sugar, ultra-processed foods, fast foods and other low vitamin and mineral rich foods. 

Nonetheless, there are still foods that can cheer us up!  To name a few….

Good Mood Food:

  1. Brazil Nuts – Oxidative stress (or an overabundance of free radicals in the brain) can lead to depression. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant that inhibits oxidative stress and therefore lowers your risk of developing depression and improves your mood.
  1. Walnuts – Walnuts are rich in mood boosting Omega 3’s. These essential fats are highly concentrated in our brain. Emerging research is showing they can be an effective therapy for mood disorders. 
  1. Strawberries – Strawberries are rich in phytonutrients which help protect our brains from oxidative stress and therefore put you in a good mood. Even being near a strawberry plant has been shown to improve moods significantly. 
  1. Pineapple – Pineapple is rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Tryptophan is transferred to your brain (especially in the presence of carbohydrates) to make serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin in your brain can elevate your mood. 
  1. Popcorn – Popcorn is rich in complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates stimulate your brain’s production of the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin. 
  1. Cashews – Cashews are rich in magnesium. This important mineral assists with brain pathways that when functioning correctly can improve mood disorders. Not only that it works to keep us calm which is why it has earned the name “the original chill pill.”
  1. Chocolate – Chocolate is the #1 food that can boost your mood! It not only improves your mood but makes you feel calmer and more content.  It also contains chemicals that simulate the feeling of being “in love” so why wouldn’t that put us in a good mood!

FUN FACT: Nutrition psychology is an emerging field of study that examines the effect of food on our emotional well-being. 

NO BAKE RECIPES

Recipe 1: Tropical Strawberry Mix

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • ½ cup dried strawberries – if possible no sugar added
  • ½ cup organic pineapple pieces – no sugar added
  • 1/8th – ¼ cup organic coconut flakes 
  • 1 cup raw almonds

Directions: 

  1. Measure out all ingredients into a bowl. 
  2. Mix together and serve. 

Recipe 2: Goji Pop Trail Mix

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • ¼ – ½ cup goji berries – no sugar added
  • ¼ – ½ cup goldenberries – no sugar added
  • 1 cup popcorn – I used skinny pop

Directions: 

  1. Measure out all ingredients into a bowl. 
  2. Mix together and serve.

OVEN BAKED RECIPES

Recipe 3: Chickpea Snack Mix

Ingredients: 

  • 1-15 ounce can chickpeas – drained and rinsed
  • ½ tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
  • ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Sprinkle to taste – cinnamon, sea salt and smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup spicy roasted pumpkin seeds – I used Eden brand
  • 1/3rd cup unsweetened dried cherries
  • ¼ cup 100% cacao dark chocolate chips – I used the Pascha, no sugar added brand

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Place drained chickpeas on a double layer of paper towels and cover with another paper towel to soak up all the moisture in them. 
  4. Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and drop into a medium size bowl. Cover with the coconut oil and maple syrup. 
  6. Then sprinkle with the cinnamon, salt and paprika until you have the desired flavor you want. Mix together. 
  7. Place chickpeas back onto the baking pan, spread out and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and add the almonds to the baking sheet.  Mix in with the chickpeas.  Bake another 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  10. Return to the bowl and add the spicy pumpkin seeds, cherries and chocolate chips. Mix together.
  11. Serve immediately!

Adapted from: https://www.wellplated.com/roasted-chickpea-snack-mix/

Recipe 4: Nutty Good Mood Mix

Ingredients: 

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Sprinkle of black pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper and sea salt.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup Brazil nuts

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Place pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts into a medium bowl. Then sprinkle on the turmeric, black pepper, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper until you have the desired flavor you want.   
  4. Add the olive oil and mix together.
  5. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet. 
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 10-20 minutes. You should smell the aroma of the nuts.
  7. Cool and serve.

Adapted from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/mood-boosting-nut-and-seed-mix

Any leftovers can be placed in mason jars, sealed and stored for up to 2 weeks. 

TRUE FRUIT COCKTAIL

True Fruit Cocktail

Made with utterly fresh springtime fruits!!

In honor of National Fruit Cocktail day on May 13th, we thought it would be fun to make an updated healthier version of this traditional fruit mixture. To make it “cocktail like”, we are serving it in a cocktail glass with a sauce vs serving it in a traditional salad bowl.

Fruit cocktail was originally made from bruised or less attractive pieces of fruit that couldn’t be sold whole. They would cut them into smaller pieces, and it looked like it was supposed to be this way. 

A traditional fruit cocktail is from a can and often is laced with heavy syrup.  This syrup contains high fructose corn syrup, sugar and corn syrup and packs a whopping 21 grams of sugar per serving!

To update this, we used fresh springtime fruits, strawberries, kiwi and pineapple.  Then we added our own special sauce to it.  One serving of this recipe contains a mammoth amount of 223% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C! Plus it contains calcium and iron. 

It also contains poppyseeds which are thought to contain pain-reliving compounds, help with digestion and may improve chances of fertility. 

Many people think fruit cocktail has the word cocktail in it because it was originally made with booze. Simply, not true. However, some people are actually now adding their favorite booze such as brandy or whiskey to their homemade versions. 

FUN FACT: Fruit cocktails are one of the most popular accompaniments to wine.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Fruit cocktail –

  • 1 fresh pineapple – cut into cubes
  • 3 medium kiwifruit – halved and sliced
  • 2 cups strawberries – chopped or sliced

Directions: Chop fruit and place it in a large bowl. 

Fruit cocktail sauce – 2 ways

#1. Creamy Lemony Fruit Cocktail Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plain coconut yogurt – I used the Culina brand
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon (about 1 medium sized lemon). I used my fruit squeezer for this. 
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon organic almond oil
  • ¼ teaspoon poppy seeds
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon lemon zest. 
  • Optional: whole fruit or coconut flakes

Directions: 

  1. 1.Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. 2.Pour over fruit mixture and mix thoroughly.
  3. 3.Divide mixed fruit into martini or other cocktail glasses.
  4. 4.Top with a whole fruit or coconut flakes – if desired. 

#2. Poppy Seed Fruit Cocktail Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon organic champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sprinkle of granulated onion 
  • 1/3 cup organic almond oil
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • Optional: whole fruit or coconut flakes

Directions: 

  1. 5.Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. 6.Pour over fruit mixture and mix thoroughly.
  3. 7.Divide mixed fruit into martini or other cocktail glasses.
  4. 8.Top with a whole fruit or coconut flakes if desired. 

Do You Feel Your Heart Beating?

A Heart Pumping Amaranth Breakfast

February isn’t only for heart-to-heart Valentine lovers. It’s also NATIONAL HEART MONTH. Did you know that close to 700,000 people die from heart disease every year??  It’s the number one killer in the United States.  

To help protect your heart and keep it beating for years to come, try including foods like the following that help support this vital organ.

Cream of Amaranth 

If you’re tired of the same old oatmeal every day, try switching it up with heart healthy amaranth. When cooked, amaranth has the texture and taste similar to cream of wheat. Amaranth is a gluten-free ancient grain that is more of a seed than a grain, very similar to quinoa! 

How is Amaranth heart healthy? Amaranth is an excellent source of fiber (about 28% of our daily recommended amount in one serving), most notably soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in our intestines and carries it out of our body to lower the amount of cholesterol in our blood and protect our heart from damage. 

Other ingredients in this recipe that are heart protective:

  1. Bananas: Most people know that bananas are rich in potassium.  Potassium helps protect our heart by lowering our blood pressure so your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard. It does this by helping our body excrete sodium or salt, which often is a big contributing factor to raising blood pressure. 
  2. Berries: This recipe contains blueberries, blackberries and raspberries all with a special antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol helps improve the health of the cells in our arteries, reducing the amount of plaque build-up and keeping our arteries strong and healthy. It also thins our blood to keep blood clots from forming that can lead to a heart attack. 
  3. Walnuts and chia seeds: Walnuts and chia seeds are rich in Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s help prevent heart disease by lowering triglycerides (fats in our blood), reducing blood pressure and raising HDL, our good cholesterol. They also help prevent blood clots from forming and prevent plague buildup in our arteries. 
  4. Cinnamon: As little as½ teaspoon a day has shown to reduce our not so good cholesterol (LDL’s) and lower triglycerides and blood pressure, to help protect our heart.  

Some added goodies: It’s rich in protein, iron and calcium!

Very Berry Amaranth Breakfast

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups of raw amaranth
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup of walnuts
  • ½ of a medium sizebanana
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blackberries
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup soy or oat milk

Preparation

  1. Place amaranth, water and sea salt in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 35-40 minutes.  Amaranth should be nice and creamy! Tip: I will usually cook this the night before to save time and to help it set. 
  2. Once amaranth is ready, measure out ¾ cups of the cooked amaranth into a medium size cereal bowl. 
  3. Top with walnuts, berries, bananas and chia seeds and then add cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. 
  4. Cover the mixture fully with soy or oat milk.
  5. Enjoy!

How Plants Boost Your Immune System

I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about how to boost your immune system to help prevent the coronavirus.  While I can’t guarantee that you won’t get the virus, here are some of the ingredients that may give your body a fighting chance.

First of all, what is your immune system? It is a conglomerate of cells, tissues and organs working together to help fight off germs. It helps your body recognize foreign invaders. Foreign invaders may include bacteria, viruses or other toxins.

How does the immune system help protect our body? White blood cells are an important part of protecting our body from disease.  This includes the phagoyctes that destroy invaders and lymphocytes that helps the body remember the invaders and destroys them before they can infect you. The T Cells are probably the most important white blood cell in protecting our body from the coronavirus, because they can tailor our immune system to fight against viruses our body has not seen before. They eat them up!

So how can you boost your immune system during this challenging time? Stay physically fit – it raises your levels of T Cells, limit alcohol and get enough sleep.  And of course, eat more plants!

The best plants to consume:

1. The White Ones: A chemical found in white color vegetables (specifically garlic and onions); called allium can significantly boost your immune system. It does this by increasing your white blood count significantly and therefore your ability to fight off disease. Eating 2-3 cloves of garlic a day can give your immune system a big boost. Raw garlic of course is the best choice, but some people cannot tolerate it raw, so adding it towards the end of cooking is best. Plus, cutting the garlic and letting it sit for 10 minutes before using will significantly increase the amount of allium that is released.

Onions are also rich in anti-oxidants to help protect bacteria and viruses from attacking our cells. The darker the onion, the more antioxidants it contains. This means the white onions contain the lowest amount, the yellow have more and the red onions have the most. The onions that have the strongest flavor and therefore make us cry; are also the richest in anti-oxidants. Probably the best onion to consume to boost our immune system is the scallions or green onions with a white bulb. These onions are the closest to their original wild form and have about 140 TIMES the amount of anti-oxidants in them.  Eating at least ½ cup of onions at a meal is the recommended amount.

2. The Pungent Ones: Yes, this includes garlic and onions but also the other strong flavored vegetables like ginger and hot peppers. Fresh ginger contains the active compounds phenolic and terbene that help keep the virus from attaching to our cells which stops the virus it in its tracks. It is especially important for preventing respiratory infections like those found in the coronavirus. These active ingredients also help combat chills and fever. The recommendation is about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger a day to give your immune system a nice boost.

Hot peppers contain the compound capsaicin, an active ingredient responsible for its heat with anti-inflammatory properties. It contains anti-viral properties but also slightly raises our body temperature, which triggers our immune system to take action. The recommendation is to eat hot chili peppers at least 4 times a week (a couple of slices at a time).

3. Soluble Fiber: There are two types of fiber, the insoluble and soluble ones. Insoluble fiber isn’t absorbed and passes quickly through our digestive system. It bulks up our stool with water and makes it easier to pass.  Soluble fiber on the other hand, takes a longer time moving through our digestive system. It dissolves in water to form a gel (think oatmeal in water) which binds to and carries toxins out of our body.   It also helps protect the lungs from viruses, reduces inflammation and boosts our immune activating T cells. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include oats, apples, beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pears and many other grains and fruits and veggies.

4. Resveratrol rich foods: Resveratrol is a powerful anti-oxidant found in a lot of red, blue or purple colored fruits.  Fruits that contain the highest amount of resveratrol include elderberries, wild blueberries, goji berries, raspberries, cranberries and pomegranates.  Oh and yes, red wine!  Resveratrol keeps viruses from infiltrating our cells and spreading. If you’re looking for an added dose to boost your immune system, consider a whole food liquid supplement that contains a lot of the red berries.

Fun Fact: Sales of elderberry syrup has doubled during the coronavirus outbreak.

5. Herbs and spices: Many herbs and spices, especially as an oil have antiviral properties.

For Example:

      • Oregano contains the compound carvacrol which has been shown to inactivate stomach viruses.
      • Ingredients in the leaves and stem of the sage plant have been shown to prevent viruses from entering cells.
      • Rosemary contains the plant compound oleanolic acid which may keep the virus from attaching to our cells.
      • Curcumin is the bright yellow compound that is responsible for the color of the spice turmeric. One of the main benefits of turmeric is that it reduces inflammation and fights off infection.
      • Cinnamaldehyde, the compound found in cinnamon that is responsible for its flavor and smell has been shown to inhibit the growth of viral infections.

And there are many, many more!

6. Tea: Tea contains powerful disease fighting properties that keep infection at bay. Black tea contains the naturally occurring compounds including polyphenols that can hinder a virus from infecting our cells. Green tea is the most anti-oxidant rich tea and therefore, a stronger anti-viral tea, because it is kept from being exposed to oxygen that changes the color to black, which reduces the amount of antioxidant properties it has in it. It contains catechins that possess antiviral properties that keep the virus from infecting our cells and increasing T cell function so it can do its job.

This is only a short list of anti-viral rich plant foods and ingredients, but hopefully it will give you enough of an idea to get started. If you would like more information on anti-viral foods during the coronavirus outbreak, please reach out.  An Ounce of Nutrition is offering free anti-viral rich foods advice during over the next month.

Future 50 Foods

The world population has grown from 3.032 billion in 1960 to 7.7 billion in 2019.  In 2050, there will be a whopping 10 billion people in the world!!

So what does this mean to our food system and the future of food?

Knorr foods and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) just released a report on the top issues surrounding the future of food and how we may be able to combat them by diversifying the foods that we are currently eating.

Some of the issues they reported include:

  • The way our food is currently grown has a significant impact on our environment and global food supply.
  • 75% of our global food supply comes from only 12 plants and 5 animals. The issue here is that it leaves our plants vulnerable to pests, disease and climate change.
  • Monocultured crops or planting a single crop over and over and over again depletes plant nutrients and increases risks of pests and bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that cause disease. This requires more and more pesticide use which can hurt wildlife and damage our water resources.
  • 60% of greenhouse gas emissions are a consequence of animal agriculture production. As a result of this process, pollution is released into the air and waste is dumped into our streams, lakes and oceans.   .

Their solution is that we need to get back to a more diversified food system that helps support the land, the soil, the air the water and our health! They propose we take the following steps:

  1. Plant and consume a wider variety of vegetables in order to protect our environment and diversify our intake of a whole plethora of vitamins and minerals.
  2. Switch to plant-based proteins in order to reduce the negative impact of animal foods on our environment.
  3. Plant more nutrient rich carbohydrates (e.g. ancient grains) that promote agrobiodiversity or a mixture of plants, animals and microorganisms all working together to grow the most nutritious food possible.

They came up with a list of 50 future foods to be planted around the world to help diversify what we are eating and promote a healthier ecosystem. These foods were chosen based on their sustainability, their nutritional value, environmental impact, flavor, accessibility, acceptability and affordability. They include vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and beans.

Here are a few stars:

nori.jpg

Algae

When I think of algae, I’m reminded of that thick green layer of goop that often attacks swimming pools, but in reality edible algae can be quite nutritious. Algae is responsible for half of all the oxygen production on earth and sea life depends on it. It is rich in usable omega 3’s, antioxidants and contains protein.  It has an umami or “mushroom-like” taste.

Nutritional impact: Laver is a type of red algae or edible seaweed used in Japanese cuisine.  We know it as “nori” or the wrapping around sushi.  It is rich in Vitamin C and an excellent source of iodine!!

Food sustainability impact:  Because algae lives wildly in water, it can be grown and harvested year-round without the use of pesticides or fertilizers.  A “game-changer” for sure!!

Fava beans

Beans and pulses (edible seeds)

There are about 40,000 different kinds of beans in the world, although only about a fraction of them are produced for human consumption. They are gaining popularity because they are very versatile, high in nutrition and are dirt cheap! They are a great substitution for meat.

Nutritional impact: All beans are high in fiber, protein and iron, but they also contain calcium, folate, magnesium, zinc and a variety of other nutrients.  They are nutrition power houses.  They are also naturally low in calories, fat and saturated fat.

Food sustainability impact:  Beans take nitrogen from the air and convert to a form so that it and nearby plants can grow and thrive. Broad beans such as the “fava’s” are considered a cover crop which means they are grown between harvests and protect the land. They keep weeds from growing, enhance the soil and keep pests at bay.

 

Orange tomatoes

Fruit Vegetables

Nope, not fruits and vegetables – “Fruit Vegetables”. These are the sweeter type vegetables, high in water and may be botanically classified as fruits. They include squash, tomatoes, eggplant, avocadoes, bell peppers, zucchini and cucumbers. They grow best in warm climates.

Nutritional impact: Most fruit vegetables are loaded with fiber and contain large amounts of the Vitamins A, B6, C and Folate.  An example is orange tomatoes. They are sweeter than their red counterparts and contain up to twice as much Vitamin A and folate than the red and green types.

Food sustainability impact:  Orange tomatoes are mostly heirlooms, which means their seeds haven’t changed since inception or been genetically modified. This uniqueness makes them more resistant to pests and disease. Eating a diverse array of fruit vegetables helps keep our food system resilient.

White icicle radish

Root Vegetables

Eating root vegetables means we are consuming the root of the plant. These solid plants have leafy tops that grow above ground and are perfectly edible as well. They are cool season vegetables and once harvested can last a REALLY long time. Think carrots!

Nutritional impact: White icicle radishes (winter radishes) are long white carrot-looking root vegetables that dangle from their stems like icicles hanging from the edge of a roof. They are extremely high in Vitamin C, contain about 50% water and have enzymes that help with digestion. Their leaves are edible.

Food sustainability impact:  White icicle radishes are often planted near squash or pumpkins as they chase away bugs. They can also be planted as a cover crop to protect the soil between harvests.

Sprouted chickpeas

Sprouts

All things sprouted are becoming hugely popular and this isn’t just the alfalfa sprouts that have been around for years. All kinds of seeds, beans and grains are being sprouted and we’re even seeing sprouted bread.

Nutritional impact: Sprouting seeds and beans doubles if not triples the nutritional value of the plant food. Chickpeas have gained in popularity in recent years and we’re now seeing them in everything from hummus to falafels to even roasted and eaten as a snack. Sprouting chickpeas helps neutralize their phytic acid (can interfere with absorption) to allow the body to better absorb their nutrients.

Food sustainability impact: Sprouts possess a low carbon footprint.  They are “kitchen-to-table” ready which means you don’t have to transport them. They don’t require soil, fertilizers or pesticides.

This is only a small sample of these incredibly powerful foods from the report. To see the full report, check out https://www.knorr.com/content/dam/unilever/knorr_world/global/online_comms_/knorr_future_50_report_online_final_version-1539191.pdf

DATA MONTH 2018: Nutrient Deficiencies in the U.S.

It’s data week! I ran across this chart below that shows nutrient deficiencies in the U.S. population and thought I would share it with you. The percentage of nutrient deficiencies may not seem that high (I actually thought they’d be even higher!), but when you compare it against the population of the U.S. (327 million) this means that about 34 million are deficient in Vitamin B6, 31 million women are deficient in Iron and 26.5 million are deficient in Vitamin D. That’s kind of a lot!

Digging a little deeper, I found that American non-Hispanic Blacks are actually the most deficient in Vitamin D (31%), followed by Mexican Americans (12%) and non-Hispanic whites (3%).

nutrientdeficiencies

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/4Page_-2nd-Nutrition-Report_508_032912.pdf

I also found this data that describes the current eating patterns in the U.S.

CurrEatingPats

Sadly, though not unexpectedly, this chart shows that people in the U.S. eat plenty of added sugars, salt and fat, but not nearly enough fruits and veggies. The most shocking statistic of course is the vegetables – close to 85% of the population does not meet the daily recommended amounts for vegetables (not counting French fries of course!). And lack of fruit consumption is not too far behind them. This means that ONLY 1 in 10 people consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in a day. Wow!

I can actually see a direct correlation between these two charts. What comes to mind immediately is that there is a connection between the number of fruits and vegetables that a person consumes and the percentage of nutrient deficiencies.

Low fruit and vegetable intake = Nutrient deficiencies

For example, as a country we are most deficient in Vitamin B6.  Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions that speed up chemical reactions in our bodies; more specifically it helps us metabolize protein. It is important for brain development in children; is involved in the production of cells that help boost our immune system and is responsible for making hemoglobin to carry oxygen to our tissues. So pretty important nutrient!

Here’s a look at some good fruit and vegetable sources of Vitamin B6: DATA WEEK - Vitamin B6

As you can see, a medium potato contains about 51% of our daily recommended amount for Vitamin B6. That’s more than ½ your days’ worth! Mango, green bell peppers and sweet potatoes are not far behind and even Watermelon has over 10% of our daily recommended amount. It’s easy to meet your daily recommended amount for Vitamin B6 by consuming a couple of servings for fruits and veggies a day.

The next statistic I noticed was Vitamin C, which also has a direct correlation to fruit and vegetable consumption. Most of us know that Vitamin C is important for protecting against colds and flu, but it also is a powerful antioxidant that can protect against cancer, heal wounds and assists with the absorption of iron.

Here is a chart that shows the foods high in Vitamin C:DATA WEEK - Vitamin C

As you can see if you eat 1 medium mango a day you will be getting 161% of your daily recommended amount for Vitamin C. So, slap your hands together – case closed! You’ve exceeded your daily requirement.

Bell peppers, strawberries and oranges are also extremely high in this nutrient. You may not know it, but strawberries actually have more Vitamin C per serving than oranges. I always like to say that the orange growers did a better job of marketing!

The last nutrient I want to point out is iron.  Iron is important in preventing iron-deficiency anemia, especially for women athletes who could end up with amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) if they don’t consume enough.   Iron is a critical component needed for carrying oxygen to the lungs and around the body.  It is also used to build hair, nails and skin.

Four of the top ten sources of iron include beans, another vegetable (about 40%). If you’ve read some of my blogs in the past, you know I love beans! They are not only high in iron, but also a great source of protein and fiber. They are high in calcium, magnesium, folate and many other nutrients.  And they are naturally low in calories, fat and cholesterol. A most perfect food!

DATA WEEK - Iron

Lentils contain the most iron (42% of our daily recommended amount), followed by black beans (34%) and then adzuki beans (33%).

As you can see, consuming a wide variety of whole fruits and vegetables on a daily basis can easily help erase the nutrient deficiencies that are so prevalent in this country.  Can you think of ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your day?

Gen Z – The New Food Movement

Image Source: Classy – https://www.classy.org/blog/gen-z-next-generation-donors/

There has been so much talk about Millennials lately that many have forgotten the next Generation right around the corner – Generation Z.

Generation Z are those born in 1995 or after (some say it’s more like 1996, depending on who you ask).  Some of them are teenagers, while others are in their early 20’s and are in or starting college. Either way, they are starting to shape their own food future.

This generation, even more so then millennials wants to make a difference in the world – especially their food world.

  • 60% want their work to make a difference in the world
  • 76% are worried about the planet
  • 75% of this generation consider themselves foodies

It’s no surprise as many of them are children of parents that were born in the 60’s or 70’s – the decades that started the food revolution. You know, the generation lost in space!

So what do we have to look forward to with this next generation of food enthusiasts?

Sustainable Food

#1. They care deeply about sustainability

  • Gen z’ers are a very environmentally and socially conscious generation
  • They want to know the story of their food from farm to table
  • Gen z’ers want an abundance of sustainable food that has a positive impact on people  and the planet

Heart shaped fruit

#2. They want health supporting foods

  • Gen z’ers love to snack but want healthy snack options
  • They prefer to snack on the go vs. sitting down for a meal
  • Gen z’ers have learned how to set healthy eating habits in school and at home
  • They know that whole, unprocessed foods are the more nutritious choice

They are also interested in boosting energy throughout the day – so energy drinks are on the rise!

Food acceptance

#3. They accept new foods easily

  • Gen z’ers are more likely to have been exposed to new and different foods early in life and are willing to try new ones
  • They have been exposed to foods from all over the world and enjoy them!
  • Gen z’ers are willing to at least try unusual flavors and ingredients

Teen purchasing

#4. They are starting to purchase their own food

  • Gen z’ers want foods that taste good, contain quality ingredients and are a good price
  • They care more about small, local foods vs. the big name brands
  • Gen z’ers buy from companies that share their values
  • They are willing to pay for foods that support the environment and support food companies with a social mission

MCHS Fresh Salsa Fiesta #2

#5. They love to cook!

  • Gen z’ers love to express themselves through the meals they make
  • They like to make their own creations and often do not follow a recipe
  • Gen z’ers may take pictures of their creation and share on social media
  • They generally learned how to cook at an early age

Cooking is very empowering to them!

So… any of you that educate students; you know teachers, parents community members, have this unique opportunity to help shape the food habits of this young, amazingly socially conscious generation.  You can have a conversation with them about sustainable foods or explain the benefits of choosing more whole, nutritious foods. You can bring this information to life by taking them on a tour of a farm or community garden, introducing them to more fresh and local food manufacturers or just helping them learn how to cook – a skill that lasts a lifetime!

Say it isn’t “Soy”

PART 2 OF 2

Soymilk

What the research is telling us about soy?

Of course you can certainly find studies that support your views on any topic. And the research on soy is “mucky” at best.

  • Claim #1: Soy promotes breast cancer – High levels of estrogen in the body have been linked to breast cancer because cancer cells attach to estrogen causing them to grow and multiply. Because soy contains “phyto” estrogens, some have speculated that they will have the same effect in our bodies. However, phyto-estrogens are not the same as body made estrogen. PE are naturally formed dietary estrogens found in plants. Most research indicates that soy in its “whole, organic, food” form exhibits weak estrogenic effects and does not lead to breast cancer growth or development. Instead, some studies demonstrated that it has a protective effect and may even decrease the risk of breast and other hormone-related cancers.
  • Claim #2: Soy causes hypothyroidism – Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid doesn’t make enough of certain kinds of hormones. This can result in severe fatigue, weight gain, a puffy face, depression and even goiters (abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland). The mineral iodine, mostly found in foods from the sea (e.g. seafood and seaweeds), but also in iodized salt is essential to produce thyroid hormones. Soy has been shown to lower the amount of iodine in our body, which eaten alone could certainly lead to hypothyroidism.  However, with the “enormous” amount of iodine consumed in most people’s diets from iodized salt, deficiency of this nutrient is rare.
  • Claim #3: Soy blocks the uptake of essential nutrients – Soy contains phytic acid (phytates), an anti-oxidant found in whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Phytic acid has been shown to interfere with the uptake of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Interestingly enough, no scientific evidence shows that this leads to deficiencies of these nutrients, so the impact is unclear. Phytic acid is also deactivated when cooked, although the degree of deactivation is debated.

In conclusion to these three claims, eating large quantities of any single food or excessive supplementation may cause imbalances or even health issues. Our best advice is to eat soy (or any other food for that matter) in moderation, so that you can incorporate other healthful foods along with it.

What is moderation for soy? The recommendations are 1-2 servings a day. 1 serving is 1 cup of soymilk or ½ cup of tofu or whole soybeans. If you are interested in the least processed soymilk possible, you can make your own.

Here is a simple recipe:

Soymilk Recipe 3

HOMEMADE SOYMILK

Serves: 4 (1 cup servings)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole dried soybeans
  • 2-3 cups water for soaking beans overnight
  • 4 cups water for blending
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

  1. Place dried soybeans in a bowl. Cover with 2-3 cups water and soak overnight.
  2. Pour soaked beans into a colander and drain water.
  3. Rub beans between fingers to remove skins. Discard skins.
  4. Place skinned beans in a blender. Add 4 cups of water, vanilla, sea salt and honey.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Strain the blended mixture by pouring it through a jelly or nut bag into a large pot.
  7. Twist the bag tightly to squeeze out the liquid completely.
  8. Pour mixture into a pitcher, let cool and then refrigerate until chilled.

Serve over oatmeal, cereal or drink plain.

The bottom line is that you can certainly find studies for or against eating soy or any other food for that matter. Easy to do! The important thing to remember is that your body is in a constant state of adding and subtracting nutrients all the time through a variety of different foods. So the key is to eat the right-size portion of a wide variety of “real” foods every day. This will add pluses that balance out the minuses to promote health and reduce deficiency.

Say it isn’t “Soy”

PART 1 OF 2

Soy Health and Nutrition

I hear from many, many, many people that they avoid soy because it’s “so dangerous!” And I think; really? How did this way of thinking start? When did this come about? After all, it’s just a bean. Well, it’s a little more complex than that, mainly because how soy is processed.

I would place soy products into 2 different categories; the highly processed kind and the minimally processed ones.

Let’s start off with the minimally processed kind:  

The minimally processed soyfoods consist of:

  • Whole non-GMO soybeans (edamame)
  • Organic soymilk
  • Organic tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Natto (fermented soy)

Soy in its minimally processed form has many benefits. Namely it is:

  • 41% protein – so a great source of protein!
  • Considered a “complete” protein because it contains all of the amino acids your body can use to build (e.g. muscle, tissues, hair, skin, etc.). Some of you may say that it’s low in certain amino acids, but it does still contain them.
  • Rich in isoflavones which have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
  • A good source of omega 3 fatty acids.
  • An excellent source of fiber.
  • Packed with iron, Vitamin C and calcium.
  • Naturally low in calories and saturated fat.
  • Loaded with B vitamins and folate.

After learning a few big points pertaining to non-processed soy products, let’s take a look at a few big points pertaining to processed soy products.

Soyfoods sales have climbed from $500 million in 1992 to $5.2 billion in 2011.

Part of the reason for its growth in popularity is that soy is highly subsidized* by the government, which means that farmers will grow a lot of it. The harvested soy needs to go somewhere, so why not create a monstrous amount of highly processed meat look-a-likes.

*Agricultural subsidy – money paid to farmers to grow a certain crop. This helps supplement their income and keep them going in times of bad weather or drought.

Examples of highly processed soy foods include:

  • Meat alternatives like veggie burgers and dogs.
  • Soybean oil
  • Soy yogurt
  • Soy formula
  • Texturized vegetable protein
  • Soy sauce

Soy is also added to meat products as a filler – “think fast food burgers” – to save on costs.

So, what is it about these highly processed versions that cause issues?

  • Soy Protein: Soy protein isolates, concentrates and texturized vegetable protein (the ingredients used to make fake-meat patties and baby formulas) are highly refined extractions from soy beans. The refining process isolates these proteins, making them more concentrated and more difficult to digest. The main concern is that they are removed from the bean using Hexane; a petroleum-based product (a result of gasoline refining – also used in cleaning products, show making, brake repair and textiles). Regular exposure to hexane may result in headaches, dizziness, headaches, eczema and even neurotoxicity (poisoning of the nervous system). Plus, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has data that indicates “hexane is a widely occurring atmospheric pollutant.”
  • GMO’s: The vast majority of soy food (91% of it is grown in the US) is genetically modified. GMO’s are plants created in a laboratory and do not occur naturally. They consist of taking the DNA or genes of a plant and combining them with genes of another organism (could be another plant, animal, virus or bacteria) in order to make it more resistant to insects, weeds and to maintain the integrity of the plant. Although “unbiased” research on GMO’s is new, we do know for sure that “cross-breeding” or genetically altering certain foods with other foods may cause allergic reactions. After the passage of a national bill, you can now tell whether or not a product has been genetically modified (small print on the back of the package, a QR code or direct consumers to a phone number or website). To avoid GMO soy, choose the organic versions or ones that are verified by the non-GMO project. **Always remember to read the labels of the foods you are putting into your body**
  • Artificial Additives: The highly refined versions of soy foods have nutrients stripped out that are replaced with a huge amount of salt and a bucket-load of artificial additives and preservatives. For example, veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs contain ingredients like modified cellulose, caramel color, corn syrup solids, dextrose, carrageenan, maltodextrin, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, hydrolyzed torula yeast, gum Arabic and red 40 and blue 1. Helpful tip: If you have no idea what the ingredients are in the foods that you are consuming; you may want to stay way!