Archive for August, 2009

In the last weeks several media moments pose the same question or seek to fully answer it for today’s generation of Ready-to-Eat food purchasers and eaters.

Michael Pollan tackled the issue in the New York Times. The movie Julia & Julie teaches us that the pioneer cooking efforts of Julia Child were inspired by a desire to “do something”  matches it with the same desire in a young woman today. My mother delving through her vast cookbook catalog to aid me in a recipe request for a seafood paella passes along to me “The Seasonal Kitchen” by Perla Myers…and I read about a chef in 1973 touting the benefits of locally grown and seasonal and the “return to fresh foods” for taste benefits (not health ones).

What I found interesting in each of these pieces is the common theme of wanting food to taste good. And savoring that taste. And of wanting to be passionate, involved, connected – not just to our food, but to those eating it, including ourselves.

Perhaps the takeaway message, the answer to “why cook” is simple – we should earn what we eat and in doing so our food will give back to us much more than a quick fix of energy or a boost of antioxidants – it will give us triumph, sensual pleasure, the slowing of time, a creative outlet, a chance to share our personal style…Perhaps “why cook” is truly the answer to optimal health we’ve been eating our way around?

Join me in cooking something this week. My paella is going to be divine!

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When it comes to nutrition blunders resulting in poor energy, I first point my finger at historic nutrition education. You see, for many years, nutrition has taught us to think about fueling up our bodies in the wrong way.

Mistake: Daily intake matters

Ideas such as: how many DAILY calories, how many DAILY grams of carbs or fats, and even how many points do we get in the DAILY lead us down the wrong path.

Truth: Our bodies are more like a race car than a street car.

When we give our bodies more than it needs AT ANY 1 TIME, it stores the extra. Our storage site: FAT cells. When we give our body more than it needs, it overwhelms digestion resulting in slower and inefficient functioning.

Like a race car, if we put in just the right amount of fuel, our bodies run efficiently and effectively for a period of time. Then, at the pit stop, when we fuel up, rotate the tires, wipe off the wind shield, the body is prepped to get back out their for its next ride.

A perfect pit stop: C+P+F (and always UV protection)

What’s this? The C (carbohydrate), the p (protein), and the F (healthy fats), plus UV (unlimited vegetables) for protection. See the AKA menu worksheet to learn what falls where.

For most, 1 serving of each per eating occasion is the right amount, for some 2 servings may be indicated (at certain pit stops or at all during the day). And remember liquids with nutrients count too!

Pit stop for optimal energy, weight management and digestive wellness.

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Are you a parent struggling with your weight? Does this scenario sound familiar? During the day at work or running around with the kids, you are the picture of healthy eating and self control (“I’d never have a cookie when I give my son one after school or as dessert”). Yet, come bed time – the kids not yours – either solo or together, you find yourself sampling from the goodie stack and once bitten, its tough to stop, so you go back for a little more.

Nutrition Genie presents rocket science solution: let’s stop the after dinner treats (like its really news to you that that’s what’s been undoing your weight loss efforts).

Conundrum – you say, I wish I could but it’s so hard knowing that there are treats in the house AND “…I have to have X in the house for my kids.”

X might be cookies, chips, Halloween candy (and it’s March), ice cream etc.

So your kids have now become your Weight Enablers… (more…)

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No way! All things equal (meaning ideally your veggies are organic – fresh or frozen), eating vegetables with some fat help us absorb the PHYTONUTRIENTS (means plant-based nutrients, antioxidants) better. WHY? Many of these nutrients are fat soluble. So if you want to have raw or steamed, make sure to have some healthy fat at your meal (avocado, olives, chia seeds, nuts, flaxseed, hempseed and olive oil etc) or go ahead and use an appropriate amount of oil to sautee, bake, or stir fry your veggies.

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This week, I discuss this topic on Good Morning America Health. Here’s a recap:

H: Hydration. Potassium helps water enter the cells and balances out sodium for hydration as well as optimal heart health. Try avocado, banana, coconut water, dried fruits, and Ultima Replenisher.
E: Essential Fatty Acids. Omega 3 fats are critical to heart health. Choose wild fish, flaxseed and hempseed oils, walnuts, soybeans, and chia seeds.
A: Apple. An apple a day WILL help keep the heart doc away as its rich in fiber and phytonutrients. BUT and apple-shaped body? Caution. Waist circumference is a key indicator of heart disease risk.
R: Red. Red berries, red tomatoes, red wine (resveratrol). The skin and pigmentation of the fruits have heart healthy benefits. Go for organic!
T: T.E.N. (the Ten Essential Nutrients) – so much of heart health has nothing to do with what we eat, but how we live our life. Take time for laughter, breathe better, sleep thoroughly etc.
S: Skip Sugar. Added sugar can clog up our blood like a cars on a freeway at rush hour, this makes the heart have to work harder, causing fatigue. Tip to lower sugar: instead of products with added sugar, go for the plain versions (like oats or yogurt or cereal) and dress them up with your own fixin’s like fresh fruit and nuts.

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What Are You?

I get asked this question all the time – in relation to my diet -whether its in my office or in the media or out with strangers. It seems that diet labels say a lot about a person these days.

Vegan? Vegetarian? Type of Vegetarian??

My initial response was to say “labels are stupid, I eat what works for me” then I thought a little further about it and here’s where I arrived.

We’ve all known vegetarians like my college drama teacher – a veggie burger with fries and a diet soda daily….where’s the “veg” dude?

Or I’ve had people tell me they are “vegan” and yet their head-to-toe leather has me wondering where diet meets lifestyle. Same with macrobiotic whose roots are in eating local and seasonal – not in importing food from Asia to eat.

Then how about my healthy and happy fly fishing guide in Montana who hunts and eats the wild buffalo he catches and shares the meat with family and friends but would never eat chicken at an LA restaurant. What’s his label?

And the list goes on…

I arrived at “Qaulitarian”. It started as “food qualitarian” but then a good friend said, aren’t you as interested in best quality (as defined as: best for me, best for the environment, best for all) in all you choose and do. So the “qualitarian” label was born.

I welcome you to be a “qualitarian” too.

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Wow! I’m just working out in a gym at the gorgeous Glasbern Inn before my tour of their organic farms. Catching up on some television, I’m feeling pretty good about where America is headed…Oprah is talking to Kirstie Alley about weight loss and they are both nodding talking about how diets fail, how we have to work on our positive messages, understand that nutrition needs to be personalized…

Then WHAM! Pizza Hut hits with an add for the biggest pizza I’ve ever seen / they’ve ever made. 4 college-aged boys saying “wow, we got to feast for cheap!” And now, AKA is pissed. You see “feasting” or here I will call it gorging or bingeing – doesn’t ever come cheap…and at the end of the day, its not just you, the one who gains weight from overeating, that pays the price. I really felt we were moving away from the Supersize era. I am all for someone enjoying some pizza – but flying saucer size? Please, keep it to the movies. Shame on the Hut. Hope you at least pay your employees healthcare – its not fair to penalize us all for your poor business decisions.

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If you are a self-proclaimed sugar addict, like many of my clients, sometimes it feels like showering in sugar would be the only way to truly satisfy the cravings.

In recognition of the health benefits of reducing sugar intake (improved immune system, digestive system, healthier weight, sustainable energy, balanced moods, etc), here are some tips that can help curb the cravings:

  1. Switch from food “products” to food: nature supplies a manageable amount of sweet in its food. Try an apple vs an apple fruit-roll up.
  2. Some assembly required: Products use sugar to add shelf life as well as for taste – thus we often find much higher levels of sugar in a product vs a food. By ingredients and assemble yourself to reduce sugar intake. Plain yogurt, add your own berries, nuts, and even a little (key word) honey or stevia – you will still be lower in sugar naturally then the one with the fruit mixed in.
  3. Watch your salt consumption: the mind, mouth, and reward system love the 1-2 salt-sugar punch. If we have salty food, do we crave sweet soon after? Often. So skip the soy sauce at sushi and perhaps an orange as dessert will satisfy vs needing ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  4. Get sleep: when the body is tired it calls out – rather it screams – for energy (carb). What it really needs is recovery. Try going to bed when visions of ice cream overwhelm you while watching late night TV.
  5. Aim for nutrient balance: too much carb or no carb at an eating occasion can set up a blood sugar hi /low that later translates to feeling like you need a sugar fix. Try pairing nutrients and keeping it to 1-2 servings of carb per eating occasion. Have an apple with almond butter vs just an apple to get carb + pro + fat. Instead of having 2 slices of bread for your sandwich and a piece of fruit at your meal – try an open faced sandwich with veggies and save the fruit (with a pro + fat) for a later eating occasion.
  6. Our body’s a race car – think pit stop vs filling up the gas tank. If we have nutrient balanced eating occasions about every 3 hours our body’s energy stays in harmony – this can help fend off sugar attacks due to low energy
  7. Go for it, knowingly: have your cake and eat it too! Just know that the effects of sugar in the system can last a few days – meaning that mental memory of how good it tasted and how good it made you feel (it really can give a high) will stick around long after its been digested. You may need to remind yourself the next day and the day after that your residual sugar cravings were earned by the delicious treat you enjoyed the night or two before.
  8. Keep it natural: the artificial sweeteners are thousands of times sweeter than mother nature’s sugar. Thousands of times…that’s pretty powerful and tough to match. No wonder an apple may not seem sweet enough if your morning beverage was thousands time sweeter.

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