Sunday, August 19, 2007

Boost Brain Power

What does every engine need to run at maximum capacity? The right fuel. Mornings can be hectic with everyone hustling and bustling to be on time for work or school. So get up bright and early to make plenty of time for a nutritious breakfast, or use the weekends for family activities that include preparing and freezing your own "grab and go breakfasts" or snacks. Try to stay away from high glycemic foods such as sugary cereals, donuts and pastries. They tend to feed the brain too quickly, create fidgeting, nervousness and inattentiveness. Low glycemic foods tend to feed nutrients to the brain more slowly and systematically. A traditional breakfast including orange juice, rich in vitamin c and powerful antioxidants, whole grain toast and an egg, which contains the brainy "choline" is a great start. Oatmeal is another great breakfast with staying power, only takes a few minutes to prepare and goes with small fruits like raisins, chopped apple, blueberries, etc. Of course my personal favorite is the pancake.

You can turn an ordinary looking pancake into a nutritional powerhouse by being creative and incorporating some foods they may not necessarily suspect, like toasted wheat germ for example. Here's some other ideas for sneaky nutrition to get you going:

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour -- "Since it has less gluten than regular whole wheat flour, pastry flour makes for light and fluffy pancakes, waffles and muffins. Try a mix of whole wheat pastry and regular whole wheat for more texture; you might want to start with 3/4 pastry and 1/4 regular."

Toasted Wheat Germ -- "Adds a nutty, sweet flavor and is high in B vitamins and fiber. Replace up to 1/2 cup of flour with wheat germ in your favorite recipes. It can also be sprinkled onto cereal and sandwiches."

Grind up Nuts and Seeds -- "Many kids and some adults don't like nuts. It's too bad because nuts and seeds are high in good fats, protein and minerals. Grind them up and add them to your baked goods, even cakes. Replace up to 1/2 cup of flour with the ground nuts."

Ground Flax seeds -- "Flax is high in beneficial fatty acids for proper brain development in kids. It is also high in fiber. Sneak this one into baked goods, cereals, smoothies and sandwiches."

Mornings are usually too hectic for much experimentation. I like to cook on the weekends and turn in it into a huge production, making bran muffins, pancakes, oatmeal cookies and sealing them up fresh to toss in the freezer. If you have enough space, I highly recommend this week-end activity. It adds to so many aspects of health for yourself, your family, and your spirit. Oh and did I mention you can save time and money! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More to Yogurt Than Meets the Eye

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Probiotics or friendly bacteria are vital to a healthy, properly functioning intestinal tract and act as a backup to your body's immune system. Probiotics can promote health by secreting antibiotic-like substances, which help detoxify and suppress pathogens, promoting proper digestion. Certain probiotic strains are particularly beneficial, producing abundant amounts of the enzyme lactase, and may effectively aid many individuals with an intolerance to dairy products. Probiotics are most often depleted by the use of antibiotics, stress, lack of sleep, carbonated drinks, laxatives or poor diet. Probiotics are found in such foods as sauerkraut, unsweetened yogurt as an example.

I am mainly focusing on yogurt, as it is familiar to most people, especially women and especially associated with dieting. Yogurt has been in use by different cultures for centuries, going back as much as 4500 years. It is very nutritious and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, people that have difficulty digesting regular milk products, can tolerate yogurt, as well as soy milk.

Yogurt is not really a "diet" food or as some believe, a low calorie ice cream substitute, but that may be part of the reason we consume over a billion pounds a year. While plain low fat yogurt is relatively low in calories, the addition or certain flavorings make it comparable in calories to vanilla ice cream. Fruit flavored yogurt sales far outpace that of the plain.

It has long been thought that there was an association between longevity and the consumption of yogurt. While studies have produced no evidence to show that eating yogurt will keep us alive longer, it still has a place in a healthy diet for all ages.

Yogurt is useful in a lot of recipes as a substitute for sour cream, an ingredient in the ever popular smoothie, and is used in Turkish and other regional dishes. Plain non-fat yogurt is used in this recipe for a cold soup. You will need a blender to puree the following ingredients:
2 cups peeled and seeded cucumbers
1 cup water
1 cup non-fat yogurt
1 clove garlic
several mint leaves
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dill weed
Serve chilled in small bowls. You may add mint, dill and a few drops olive oil to garnish.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nutrient Rich Orange Juice

Orange juice is rich in Vitamin C and contains 120% of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin C is not stored by the body and should be replaced daily. This requirement is easily met by drinking an 8 ounce glass of orange juice. An 8 ounce glass has 110 calories. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants and acts to neutralize harmful elements know as free radicals to help prevent disease and fight infection. 8 ounces of orange juice also contains: Thiamine 10%, Niacin 4%, Folate 15%, Calcium 2%, Vitamin B6 6%, Magnesium 6%. Also a rich source of potassium, containing 13%, which is important in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in cells.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Low Calorie Sweeteners

When we think about developing healthier sustainable eating strategies, otherwise known as dieting, one of the first areas where we try to cut calories, is reducing our intake of sweets. One way to take a step in the right direction is to take stock of what we keep on hand, at our immediate disposal, and find suitable alternatives.

Low calorie sweeteners are similar to sugar (fructose) but offer more intensity. Therefore, a little goes a long way toward achieving the desired taste, while adding only a negligible amount of calories. These sweeteners have FDA approval to be used in the United States:
Acefultame Potassium( Ace-K) was approved in 1988 and is 200 times sweeter than sugar; sold as Sunett and Sweet One.
Aspartame was approved in 1981, is 180 times sweeter and found in Nutra Sweet and Equal brands among others.
Saccharin has been around longer than any of the others and was first discovered in 1878. Once a suspected carcinogen, Saccharin no longer requires a warning label, as a result of subsequent findings by the NIH and legislation enacted in 2001. Saccharin is marketed as SweetnLo,Sweet Twin and Sugar Twin and is 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Sucralose was approved in 1998, shown to be 600 times sweeter, and is branded as Splenda.
Neotame is newest general purpose sweetener to receive approval in the U.S. as well as other countries. It is the most intense to date, being 7000 sweeter than sugar. It was approved in 2002. I have no brand names associated with this product at this time.

Low calorie sweeteners can be a big help to those of us concerned with caloric intake, carbohydrate management, or living with diabetes. For more information about scientific studies and safety evaluations, I would urge anyone interested, to avail themselves of information available online from the USDA, ADA, and the International Food Information Council Foundation which is linked to the title of this post.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The First Step is the Hardest

Most of us are aware of the rise in obesity and overweight. The numbers are staggering and have become a health concern worldwide. There are many products on the market to help us shed pounds in order to experience the exhilaration of fitting into a “size 2.” Well, not everyone can or should achieve that goal. It may work temporarily, but likely, is not sustainable and may lead to yo-yo dieting. You need to develop healthy eating habits that, in time will lead to sustainable weight loss, more energy and also mitigate your risk for certain conditions, including diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 happens, when the body is not able to produce insulin. You need insulin to convert sugar into energy. People with type 2 diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or become insulin resistant.

With a growing number of people already diagnosed with diabetes and pre-diabetes, even more are at risk and may not know it. So, first of all, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your risk factors. Some, you can’t control, but the single most important factor contributing to type 2 diabetes can be controlled, and that is weight.
BMI Categories:
Underweight: Less than 18.5
Normal weight: 18.5 - 24.9
Overweight: 25 - 29.9
Obese: 30 or higher

Weight Control

A healthy diet can help you lose weight. When combined with exercise, you may also lower your cholesterol and improve the way your body functions. Following the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, you may select from the basic food groups.

Starting with grains, here are some simple ways to make healthy diet changes without sacrificing. Instead of biscuits, white breads and rolls or croissants, try low fat whole grains such as wheat, pumpernickel or rye. Instead of doughnuts and pastries, try English muffins or whole grain bagels. Substitute soft tortillas or pita bread for fried tortillas. Replace sugary cereals and granola with oatmeal or other whole grain cereal.

As a general rule, you may want to substitute fried for broiled or baked, reduce the amount of salt and sugar, while increasing your intake of water, unsweetened tea and real fruit or vegetable juices. By visiting the USDA website, you will be able to view or print sample, weekly, 2000 calorie a day menus, that offer great guidance. You will be amazed at the variety of foods you can have, but you have to follow the measurements precisely.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ratatouille Stew

Since Ratatouille has been getting a lot of notoriety lately from the film and the game, I thought it may be a good time to remind folks of one of my all time favorite regional recipes. Based on the food pyramid and good for a lot of diet restrictions, such as low fat, low sodium or vegan.It is not only healthful, but a combination of super foods that is delicious. The great thing about this garden variety stew is the cook can make their own interpretations or modifications by varying the vegetables or adding diced meats. The Sicilian recipe for Caponata comes to mind with its ingredients that include, peppers, pine nuts, chopped parsley, capers and olives. It may be used as a spread or filling, served with pasta, rice or potatoes. There is no end to the versatility offered by these recipes, and easy preparation make them great choices for introducing your child to the art of cooking delicious healthy foods, an important life skill.

Ratatouille stew basics:

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic

1 large eggplant

1 can stewed tomatoes

2 medium zucchini squash

herbs such as basil

small amount of olive oil for sauteing

salt and pepper to taste.

Saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil for about five minutes before adding tomatoes and diced eggplant, bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer about 10-15 minutes before adding diced zucchini. Then cover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Highway2PerfectHealth Awarded Silver Citation

Marietta, Georgia July 7th, 2007

Highway2PerfectHealth, a virtual online magazine style website, is proud to announce, it is the recipient of the silver award for 2007-2008, making them eligible for the Website of the Year, later this year. The award is issued by the American Association of Webmasters.

The virtual company offers a fine line of products on their site that are designed to improve or enhance a healthier lifestyle. Dry Saunas, water filtration, exercise equipment, health supplements for people and pets, diet plans and quality cookware for preparing those healthy meals at home are among the offerings found throughout the site and in the Vitamin Health Shop.

More importantly, the site is focused on health, diet and fitness. This is represented in the company logo, which incorporates a tri-color symbol with the three bands of color representing these goals, and strives to provide the tools necessary in pursuing the goal of perfect health. Nutritional information and resources empowering the reader to make the best decisions for themselves and their families are abundant throughout the site.

Pages are chock full of articles, such as, smoking cessation, recipes based on the food pyramid, foods that lower cholesterol, teaching kids nutrition and even one devoted to the beloved family pet are only part of what awaits you when you make the, your online healthy living destination.

Comments from some readers:

"When browsing the site I came across the baby nutrition content and found it very useful. Some of the fruits and veggies that were listed as important for my baby I never thought of feeding him. I will be trying some of them with my son now. Thank-you."

"This is a fantastic website offering you loads of tips for a much healthier lifestyle. The name "Highway to perfect health" describes exactly what this website does. The colours are very striking, and this site is not only easy but also fun to use. Top marks!"

"I am definitely, going to bookmark your site. Health issues are the main topic for my age group, not to mention everyone, and the presentation you offer maintains us focused and eager for more. Good work and congratulations. Enjoy the promotions."

"You will bookmark this site I promise you! It has the best compendium of health-related information presented in a fun not preachy fashion. Terrific links and very well researched. Thanks for doing this for those of us who need to make healthier choices!