Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brown Rice vs. White Rice....who wins this match?

Brown Rice.....White there really a difference??? Is brown rice worth the twice as long cooking time?

When rice is harvested the seeds are run through a rice huller/husker to remove the hard inedible outer shell. The end product is brown rice. White rice takes a few extra steps. The germ and bran (inner husk) are removed and the grain is polished with glucose or talc; creating the white shinny end product.

The extra processing involved in white rice production removes many of the all natural nutrients. White rice is lower in Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Niacin, Folacin, Potassium, Iron and many others. Often times these vitamins are added back to white rice with the use of synthetic chemicals; bad for the environment and the consumer.

Furthermore, white rice has 25% of the fiber that brown rice contains. Fiber from natural sources is essential for digestive health; why eat something that is robbed of its full fiber potential?

Additionally, with all the extra processing and chemical additives involved with white rice we see a negative impact on the environment. More processing = more energy...usually from some pollution producing plant. More chemicals = more environmentally harmful bi-products released into the atmosphere, sewers, and even ground water.

Lastly, brown rice has a much lower glycemic index (GI) than white (brown rice= 50 (low GI) and white rice= 69 (medium to high GI)). Eating foods high in the glycemic index causes a raise in the body's insulin response, which leads to sugar spikes and food cravings. Consuming a high GI diet also increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

So is brown rice worth the extra cooking time....most definitely! Plus many stores make it easier for us by selling already prepared brown rice, usually available in the freezer section and takes about 3 minutes in the microwave! No more excuses :).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pizza....Dieters Nightmare??

I can't think of one person I personally know that does not drool at the word PIZZA.  Not sure what it is but this stuff is incredible.  Yet for a lot of us trying to keep those waist lines small; this food can be our enemy.  Most pizzas can be loaded with saturated fat and very high in calories, especially that it is hard to eat just one slice.

Yes pizza is usually the American go to fast food for delivery or straight from the freezer.  But why not make a pizza?  I guarantee it tastes much better than those quick versions!  Plus this can actually be a really fun activity for families and couples.

The key to making a healthy pizza:
  • keep the meat chicken breast or turkey (sausage or pepperoni)
  • keep the cheese low fat and light; loading cheese on your pizza will stick to you...promise
  • use fresh veggies; either put these on raw or grill or saute before
  • keep the sauce to a healthy olive oil based pesto or a traditional marinara (stay away from the dairy based sauces)
  • try to use whole wheat dough; available at Trader Joe's for around $2
  • make it creative! the more flavors the better your pizza will be
Buy a pizza stone! This will change your life, promise!  Plus you can use it for so many other things you cook.  Here's the one I have (make sure you get the stone and the paddle!):

Here's my most recent creation (Vegie Whole Wheat Pizza):

  • Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/2 jar of artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 c- 1 c Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 c spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 c olives, chopped
  • 1/2 c mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 c crumbled herbed goat cheese
  • 1/4 c onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of corn meal
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  1. Preheat the oven (pizza stone inside) to 420 degrees.
  2. Chop all ingredients, ready to top pizza.
  3. Once oven is pre-heated, toss pizza dough in flour, either roll our dough or hand toss; attempting to get it into a rounded shape.
  4. Coat pizza paddle with corn meal, place rolled out dough on paddle.
  5. Roll up dough around edges to create the Crust.  Stuff rolled crust with sauce, if desired.
  6. Spread pizza dough with marinara sauce, all the way to crust.
  7. Top with chopped veggies and crumbled herbed goat cheese.
  8. Place in the oven for 20 -25 minutes or until crispy crust and cheese mostly melted.
  9. Serve with warmed marinara sauce.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How much protein do we really need?

With the low carb-high protein Atkins craze, many Americans filled their diets with protein. Thankfully, most have begun to see the actual medical damage the Atkins diet poses on the body and have begun to eat a little more normally. Yet, many of us still fill our diet holes with extra protein. In fact most sedentary Americans eat about 50% more protein than they really require.

Chronic high-protein diets, meaning greater than 2.5 the RDA; can eventually lead to calcium depletion, fluid imbalance, eventual hunger, slower metabolism, and energy loss. These diets are also associated with heart disease and various types of cancer. In addition, eating too much protein taxes the kidneys.

So when we are surrounded by all these protein bars, protein shakes, books and magazines pushing us to eat more meat, eat more protein?? Life tends to get confusing and we begin to question how do we get this balance?

The protein necessary per individual depends on a few factors:
  • Amount of resistance training and length of endurance workouts
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Recovering from cold/illness
  • Intense endurance or weight training
The more one is exercising, the more protein the body needs to recover from tissue damage. But still be wary of that 2.5 factor!! Don’t overdo it!

Most sedentary adults require about (0.5-0.8)g/ kg (of body weight). While strength trained and endurance trained athletes require about (1.2-1.7)g/ kg (of body weight).

Here’s another quick calculation:
  1. (weight in pounds)/2 = (weight in kg)
  2. (weight in kg) x (0.8-1.8gm/kg) = (gm of protein required)
    • 0.8 (lower #)= sedentary individuals in good health
    • 1-1.8 (higher #)= high stress, pregnant, recovering from cold/illness, or intense exercise regime


NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Healthy Hearty Shrimp Scampi

Yum yum…rich garlicy shrimp scampi…the restaurant versions are calorie laden with heavy amount of butter. This version just as flavor but much lower in calories.

  • 1 lb cleaned de-vained unshelled shrimp
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 medium chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ c fresh parsley
  • ½ c olive oil
  • 2 tbsp smart balance or earth balance

  1. In a large fry pan sauté garlic, chopped onion, and 1/8 c fresh parsley in olive oil on medium-high for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
  2. Rinse and drain shrimp.
  3. Add shrimp and smart balance in fry pan.
  4. Increase heat to high and cook stirring occasionally until all shrimp turn a pinkish color.
  5. Serve with a healthy salad and some whole wheat French bread.