Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eating Eggs

Easter has come and gone along with religious ceremonies and Easter egg hunts. I think most of us think about chocolate and the Easter bunny, but rather than focus on chocolate at this time, I thought I would focus on eggs.

Eggs can play a role in a healthy diet, and like many food should be eaten with variety and moderation in mind. In Canada's Food Guide, 2 eggs count as a serving of Meat and Alternatives. Eggs are an affordable source of quality protein, are quick to cook, and are versatile enough to be eaten at any meal. One standard large egg contains 70 calories, 5 g of fat, 1 g of carbohydrate, and 6 g of protein.

That same egg also provides:
Vitamin A 10%
Calcium 2%
Vitamin D 15%
Riboflavin 15%
Vitamin B12 50%
Iron 6%
Vitamin E 15%
Niacin 8%
Folate 8%
(source: eggs.ca)

Did you know?
the colour of the egg is determined by the breed of hen; there is no nutritional difference between white and brown eggs.

There are specialty eggs available that may or may not have different nutrient values.

Steph Wheler

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Little or A Lot

A great place to start changing your food choices is to start comparing labels at the grocery store. The Nutrition Facts give you information on serving size, calories, and 13 core nutrients.

If you're not sure what you're looking for, start with the % Daily Value (%DV). This will help you see if the serving size has a little or a lot of a specific nutrient.

5% DV or less is a LITTLE
15% DV or more is a LOT
Keep those numbers in mind and choose less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. Choose more fibre, vitamin A, calcium, and iron.

Next time you're at the grocery store just start comparing a few of your favourite items (crackers, cereal, yogurt, etc.). Gradually you will get used to looking at labels and will decide what is important to your health and what makes a healthier choice for you.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners

Nancy Clark is an internationally renowned sport dietitian. I have had her book Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook for many years now as a great resource. Now that I am getting into running more and doing more presentations for running groups, I thought I would check this book out -Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners. It is a really short read - there are 16 chapters and each one is only about 5-6 pages.

I like that it presents some basic ideas, recipes, food lists, questions that people often ask, answers to the questions, and much more. I am looking forward to trying many of the recipes and I love that they use ingredients commonly found in the home. My nutrition beliefs are in line with Nancy's and I love that it shows people that you can eat real food, you don't need to use supplements. She also acknowledges that people often don't eat perfect and talks about aiming for 90% of your calories to come from quality foods and leaving 10% for sweets and treats if desired.

There are great strategies for healthy eating, fueling to run, recovering from a run, weight loss, and weight management. I think this is a great basic introduction to running and nutrition. I will post some of the recipes with pictures as I try them out. Nancy does a great job presenting nutrition in an easy to follow manner with lots of meal ideas and evidence based knowledge.

Steph Wheler

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Soaking and Cooking Dried Beans/Legumes

If you've always used canned beans/legumes, or even if you are just starting to consider adding these meat alternatives to your diet - you may not know what to do with the dried varieties. Dried beans/legumes are a great budget friendly, shelf stable vegetarian protein. Beans/legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. Canned items can be high in salt/sodium which is part of the reason I first tried dried beans/legumes.

I found a good guide on the site The Veggie Table which I have followed to learn about different soaking times and how to cook the beans once they've been rehydrated. I don't often soak overnight because I often use the beans/legumes to create supper. Instead I soak them while I work all day so they are ready when I need them that evening. I do test them throughout the cooking time until they reach the consistency I want. I use my rice cooker to get my brown rice done while I chop and saute a variety of vegetables, then I mix everything together in a skillet and season accordingly. I'm not a vegetarian, but I like having variety and moderation in my diet and dried beans/legumes allow me to do that!

If you're not sure where to start, the Mayo Clinic has a list of some beans/legumes and their common uses.

Steph Wheler

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Being Mindful

I often talk to my clients about creating awareness around eating. This starts before they even come for an initial assessment. In our hectic lives we seem to have gotten away from eating when hungry and slowing down to actually enjoy the food. Being mindful brings us back to the moment to actually think about what we are feeding our bodies. It means focusing on the food and getting rid of other distractions. By creating mindfulness we can get back to the basics of listening to when we are hungry and when we are satisfied.

We tend to eat for many different reasons - hunger, boredom, stress, gatherings of friends and family, etc. There is a simple acronym to remember if you find that you eat for reasons other than hunger - HALT.

Ask yourself, am I
Angry or Anxious?

Food won`t solve your problems, so try to eat when hungry and find other activities to relieve anger, anxiety, loneliness, and tiredness.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Curried Lentils

I felt like trying something new last night - so based on what was in the house I looked for a recipe for curried lentils. I used one from cooks.com:

Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,162,140178-252193,00.html
Content Copyright © 2011 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
1 cup lentils
3 cups broth or water
2 large onions, finely chopped, divided
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
Combine ingredients, simmer 40 minutes
I did simmer for longer - until the lentils softened up. I added it to a skillet with lightly sauteed bell peppers and simmered to remove more of the liquid, then served it over rice. It was a decent meal, but didn't have as much flavour as I had hoped for - so I will continue to look for new curried lentil recipes.

Steph Wheler

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book Review: In Defense of Food

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

I have had Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food on my shelf waiting to be read, so I finally got to it. It is actually quite a quick read and offers some interesting insights. As a journalist and writer I am still not sure of his expertise in the food arena, but he eats food and wanted to express his opinion.

He brings up the point that nutrition science is always changing - but says this is a flaw because advice over the years often changes when we realize something may not be as healthy as we originally thought (or may be less healthy than we originally thought). This is how science works though, we live in a society/culture of advancement and yes, things will continue to change as new evidence arises and as new products hit the market. We need to change with the times - for example, obesity has become more prevalent than before, so we must change our ways of eating to deal with this new issue.

I think he has some great comments about our Western diet - which contains lots of processed foods, lots of added fat and sugar, yet lacks vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. His idea of nutritionism and the fact that we eat food not nutrients makes sense to me - "people don't eat nutrients; they eat foods, and foods can behave very differently from the nutrients they contain." We also don't eat just one food at a time, so that complicates things further. He points out the prevalence of chronic disease in the Western culture versus other cultures and also states that it may not be what we are eating (fat, sugar, processed foods, etc.) but what we aren't eating (fruits, vegetables, etc.) that is to blame.

I am not sure how he thinks he can lump food science, advertising, journalism, and dietetics under the title "nutritionist". Yes, the food industry wants you to spend money and advertisers will market the latest craze - and they will keep doing this so that you are always trying the newest things - they don't want you to succeed. Dietitians want to teach you to eat healthy so that you can eat healthy for life - it's not a fad and they aren't selling a product.

It was interesting to read that over time Americans spend less percentage of their income on food, spend less time preparing food, and also spend less time enjoying food. Michael goes on to provide advice such as:
- don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
- avoid food products that make health claims
- get out of the supermarkets whenever possible...

Some of the advice is right on target such as eating meals at the kitchen table, listening to your hunger and fullness cues, and eating smaller portions. Some of the advice isn't as strong, but I think the basic message is there - get back to the simple, whole foods. If nothing else, it was an interesting book to read.

Steph Wheler