All Entries For healthy foods
Back in 2004, I was much heavier than I am now. I worked second shift, which meant my dinner was eaten at my desk or in the basement lunchroom of the newspaper. Usually, I grabbed takeout with my co-workers--and I rare had any leftovers. Every few months or so, frustrated with pants that were growing tighter, I made up my mind to lose weight.
I also wanted to save money, so I started making food at home and bringing it to work. One the menu: couscous and baked chicken breasts, with frozen broccoli or green beans. Little to no sauce, and just herbs and spices for flavor. Needless to say, I often abandoned my packed dinner in lieu of more exciting takeout options.
Why? Because I was forcing myself to eat bland and boring food I didn't really like in an effort to lose weight. In the end, it just didn't work, and I wasted money and gained even more weight.
I knew I wasn't alone. Plenty of other people fail before eventually losing the weight and keeping it off. In writing and researching SparkPeople's first cookbook, Chef Meg and I been hearing from people about the different foods they've eaten in an effort to lose weight. Many people reported that, while trying to shed those extra pounds, they chose foods they thought were healthier and lower in calories, but they ended up not wanting to eat them--and not losing much weight.
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More than likely, you have heard the health claims about green tea. Perhaps you have seen products containing green tea extracts on store shelves and read the claims of antioxidant benefit. You may also have read reports that green tea makers are in hot water with the FDA for making "unsubstantiated nutrition claims."
With so many things flying around, it can be difficult to decipher fact from fiction. Here is some basic information we hope will help you decide where green tea fits in your healthy beverage options.
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Have you heard about the new noodles that have no calories? It's true. These noodles have no calories, fat, gluten or carbs. Made from a soluble fiber derived from a Japanese yam, the noodles have been available in Japan for years.
Some health professionals and manufacturers say the lack of carbs and fiber make these a viable food source for those who have diabetes, celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Their texture is similar to shirataki noodles, which contain the same fiber (glucomannan). Shirataki noodles--named after the shirataki yam (konyaku)--have been popular for a few years, but they have about 20 calories a serving because of the tofu they also contain. (The yam is also known as konjak, konjaku, devil's tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm, or elephant yam.)
However, not everyone is a fan of the noodles, and for reasons other than their slimy texture and fishy smell straight from the bag. (The smell goes away if you rinse them, and they morph from a squishy, squidlike texture to firm noodle texture as you heat them. I ate them while living and traveling in Asia.)
The research I did on the noodles didn't mention that this isn't the first time konjac has been popular--and that the fiber it contains has been banned in some forms and in some countries.
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Iím a pretty cost-conscious person. I donít spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes, or other disposable income items. I balance my checkbook to the penny and make sure our credit cards are paid off at the end of each month. But one area where I tend to (or really, always) splurge is on food. I buy organic produce, try to buy products that have the smallest number of ingredients possible, and always end up with a grocery bill that shocks me a little in the checkout line. Read More ›
About three years ago, a friend and I were at a natural foods store in the vitamins aisle. I needed more calcium and magnesium, which I take upon my doctor's recommendation to alleviate premenstrual mood swings. While my friend perused the multivitamins, I strolled up and down the aisle, reading labels. Then I spotted inulin, which I'd read was a great source of prebiotics. As a then-frequent sufferer of stress-related GI distress (this was during my "old life"), I was (and still am) a regular consumer of probiotics, those microorganisms found in your gut and in fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi, which can benefit your immune and digestive systems. In short, prebiotics are what feed probiotics. Anything that helps the good bacteria in your gut thrive and flourish sounded like a great product to me. Besides, I had just read that probiotics were the next big thing in nutrition.
I grabbed a jar, shelled out $8.99, and, upon returning home, stirred two tablespoons into water, just as the jar suggested. It tasted mildly sweet but not too bad. Within an hour, I learned the importance of doing your research before buying any supplement! (Who impulse shops at a health food store, I ask?)
My stomach was visibly distended, hard to the touch, and gurgling loudly. I felt as though I had just gorged on Thanksgiving dinner--I was full and bloated. Later on, I had horrible stomach pains that left me doubled over. Forced to cancel my Saturday night plans, I headed to the Internet and read up on inulin, then chucked my jar in the garbage.
A few months ago, I ate a piece of high-fiber flatbread--something I do not eat--for an afternoon snack and ended up with the same symptoms, primarily stomach pains that kept me from a training run! I read the label after the fact, and a type of added fiber was the culprit. Since then, I avoided these ingredients in all quantities. As I recently read, I'm not the only one who has trouble digesting these added fibers.
You might not have heard of inulin, but if you've eaten high-fiber foods--granola and snack bars, breads, crackers, cereals, and even yogurt--that have popped up on the market in the last few years, you've probably eaten a form of it. Inulins, which are a type of carbohydrate considered to be soluble fiber, are increasingly being added to processed foods as "stealth fibers." What's a "stealth fiber"? Any fiber that is added to a food that wouldn't naturally have it. In addition to inulin, products also use polydextrose and maltodextrin, among others.
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It is well understood that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides many health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing risks of heart disease, cancer, and digestive problems. Not only do they provide many necessary vitamins and minerals, but also beneficial fiber as well.
According to U.S. nutritional data, we are not measuring up when it comes to eating a variety of fruits and vegetables but tend to consume the same bland produce repeatedly. When you limit fruit and vegetable intake to only a few more common sources, you are also limiting your phytochemical intake as well. Phytochemicals are the naturally occurring non-nutritive disease preventive chemicals found in plants.
It doesn't matter whether you rely on the ROY G BIV mnemonic or need to look at a rainbow picture, as long as you focus on an intake that includes all the colors of the rainbow, you will be certain to provide your body with a wide range of nutrients. Here are some fruit and vegetable suggestions to help you eat a rainbow.
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The edible seeds of legumes like dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils are called pulses, a name derived from the Latin word puls which means thick soup or potage. Pulses are very popular in Mexican, Middle Eastern, or East Indian cuisine and provide a low fat protein source, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients. They are unique among grain crops because they put nitrogen back into the soil, which produces fewer greenhouse gases, and take less energy to grow, which provides an environmentally friendly crop.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1.7 billion pounds of dry peas and 590 million pounds of lentils were produced in our country last year with North Dakota and Montana serving as top producing states. Surprisingly, two-thirds or more of these crops were exported to drought-ridden areas of the world such as India, South Asia and Turkey.
Fortunately, tight budgets and an increased focus on healthier eating here at home have also provided a wonderful opportunity to influence interest in legumes and vegetables. A new association between the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and the US Dry Bean Council called the American Pulse Association (APA) has been created with the hopes of significantly increasing national consumption of pulses over the next five years.
How much do you know about them?
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Chocolate--just saying the word can trigger a craving like nothing else. However, I must confess, for the past two years that hasn't been a big issue for me because every night I have what I like to call my anti-oxidant cocktail. This cocktail consists of one ounce of 70% Lindt dark chocolate with two tablespoons of chopped walnuts. Not only do I enjoy my little treat every evening, these foods contain polyphenols, or chemicals found in plants that can offset free radicals in our bodies, which may help prevent many diseases.
Having been diagnosed with hypertension 6 years and 80 pounds ago, I thought that once I lost the weight and started a consistent exercise routine I would be able to stop my anti-hypertensive medication, but that has not been the case. So I decided to look into other avenues to help keep my risk for developing heart disease low.
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Both my husband and I have been milk drinkers our entire lives. Some of our fondest memories growing up include milk. For my husband it was spending summers working on his grandfather's dairy farm. For me it was greeting our milkman Mr. McVay each week as he delivered our milk and collected the empty bottles from the silver milk box on the front porch. I think I have just dated myself! Our teen children are wonderful milk drinkers as well and today our family goes through many gallons each week.
Of course, I have heard the many comments that milk from animals is only for animals and that many people are lactose intolerant especially if they are of non-European ancestry. Some opponents of milk say it is only promoted to benefit dairy sales and that alternatives such as rice, almond or soymilk are more nutritious. National Nutrition Month presents a wonderful opportunity to talk about why dairy offers superior nutrition and value.
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In 2008, over-the-counter fish oil supplement sales in the United States nearly topped $740 million. Add to that the additional $1.8 billion spent on other omega-3 fortified foods like margarine and peanut butter and you can see that omega-3 is big business. Is this money well spent or nothing more than an oil spill.
The many omega-3 benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, improving cholesterol profiles by decreasing triglycerides and increasing protective HDL's or supporting mental health are all wonderful reasons to include omega-3 rich foods in our diet. Since these essential fatty acids are not made by the body and have been found to be so beneficial, they have become a new supplement marketing focus. According to a recent Forbes article, they are not always the best use of our money.
Here are some important things to keep in mind as you select at the supermarket or supplement aisle to be sure you are making nutrient and money wise omega-3 choices.
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By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)
I always had viewed dieting as a punishment for being overweight. I donít anymore. Dieting is a punishment to anyone who tries it because it is bound to fail eventually.
The nutrition part of losing weight for me this time has been more about what I do eat than what I donít eat. I try to focus on eating healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, lean proteins, low fat organic dairy and healthy fats. By the time I get these foods in, I have less room for junk, so I always make sure to have something good for me before I indulge.
Discovering and adding healthy foods that you like into your diet can be fun and exciting. Even if you arenít a cook, there are simple things to try that take only a few minutes to make that include very healthy fare. Here are some tips that have helped me lose more than 100 pounds using SparkPeople: Read More ›
Victory Gardens were a popular thing back in the early 1940s. Some referred to them as 'war gardens' while others called them 'food gardens for defense'. In 1943 due to the rationing of canned goods for families, these gardens produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed across the nation.
Several years ago, churches in my area started victory-type gardens to provide fresh produce to food pantries. Not only did this provide a healthier option for folks that were in need of food compared to high sodium canned vegetables, it also renewed an interest in backyard gardening in our suburban area.
Today victory-type gardens are becoming popular once again but with a different goal. Today, self-reliance has become a motivating factor behind home gardening. When you grow your own food you increase the ability to control how it is grown, what you pay and how much will be available. With the hint of spring in the air, now is the time to begin garden planning, planting designs and preparation. Here are some simple ideas to help you plan a victory-type garden for your family.
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With all the talk of how we should help kids stay healthy, my mind keeps returning to the same idea: Teach them to cook! In my home, the kitchen is an extension of the family room, and my three preteen boys have helped me cook since they were small. Teaching your kids to cook doesnít mean that you have to turn them loose on their own. It just means letting them play an active role in meal planning, preparation--and cleanup. Training petite chefs is easy. Here are eight tips to get you started: Read More ›
by SparkPeople member Kristina, aka KARVY09
Since the beginning of 2009, I've lost 52 pounds, 45 of those on SparkPeople in the last 5 months. I credit many people in my life for helping me get this far, including my awesome husband and friends, and my incredible friends on SparkPeople. (Man, does this sound like an acceptance speech or what?)
I also got a lot of help from some awesome snack foods along the way...
Yes, snack food.
There are some foods that I do not think I would have gotten this far without, and for that reason, I just have to pay tribute to my Top Five in blog form to give them the recognition that they deserve. So here they are, in no particular order. Read More ›
Health conscious people desire to get the most nutrition for the least amount of money but for many of us, knowing how to do that can be difficult. I have previously written several articles related to recession eating that outline some strategies you can use. Now, there may be a new tool to help.
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