Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Drink Your Dessert

Have you ever noticed how you can eat a big meal, feel very content, but yet still want something sweet at the end?  I have not been able to find a good answer for why this happens, but I am going to keep looking.  Many non-scientific sources will blame it on growing up in a household that always had something sweet after a meal.  Food historians think it originated from ancient medical ideas regarding digestion (which I honestly don't think we should count out). 

Maybe you don't crave something sweet after a meal, but I do.  I don't think it's a habit carried over from childhood either.  For some people, eating fruit after a meal will satisfy that craving.  Sometimes this is true for me, but not always. 

Here's the best tip I have read for taking care of the sweet craving after a meal:  drink something sweet.  I think you'll be surprised at how it can help satisfy that craving.  If you like to drink tea or soda with your meals, I suggest drinking water during the meal and then drink your tea or soda once you're finished eating.  You'll actually get to enjoy the flavor of the drink, too.  Coffee works the same way.  In college, I used to drink a glass of Crystal Light after dinner.  More often than not, I tend to be a chocolate girl, so my favorite "dessert" is a glass of chocolate milk.  This works really well for me plus it helps me up my intake of calcium and other nutrients.

What about you?  Do you give in to the cravings or have you found a healthy alternative?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Plant-Based Diet

In the May issue of Today’s Dietitian, there is a great article about the latest diet catchphrase.  No longer is there an emphasis on “low-fat” or “low-carbohydrate”.  The newest term that you may have heard circulating around is a “plant-based diet”.  Although this is basically what I try to emphasize to patients and what the food pyramid has been showing for decades, I’m glad that this term is being more widely used at larger healthcare organizations, like Mayo Clinic and the American Institute for Cancer Research, because anytime patients can hear something beneficial before they come to my office, the better. J
So what is a plant-based diet?  No, it is not a vegetarian diet.  But it “emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.”  For most of us in the U.S. on a more Western diet, following a plant-based diet will be a gradual process.  The article points out that it may have different meanings for different people depending on which plant foods are available.  Animal foods like meat, yogurt, cheese, and milk are not discouraged, but simply the focus is to eat more plant foods, specifically whole, unprocessed foods that come directly from plants.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
“Results of an evidence-based review showed that plant-based diets reduced the risk of ischemia, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes; lowered LDL blood pressure; reduced body mass; and reduced overall cancer rate.  Risk of chronic disease reduced due to decreased intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and increased intake of vegetables with more fiber and phytochemicals, nuts, and soy proteins.  -Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, BC-ADM, CDE, director of scientific affairs for Abbott Diabetes Care
Main stumbling blocks to following the diet are preparation time and a general mindset that meat needs to be the main focus of each meal.  Both of which are absolutely hardwired into many people.  “There is an idea that meat equals protein and that you have to have lots of protein to stay healthy,” the article stated.  Boy, do I know it.  And I definitely used to think that way too.  Most people don’t realize that protein is found in all foods to varying degrees and by eating a variety of foods throughout the day, a person will more than likely consume adequate protein. 
In January of 2008, my new year’s resolution was to eat less meat.  I was in my last year of college and starting to apply some of the nutrition knowledge I had been learning for the past 3 years (finally, right?).  It wasn’t that I cut meat out of my diet completely, but just that instead of worrying about all the “bad foods” that I was eating, I would focus more on making sure I ate more fruits, veggies, and whole grains.  Good gracious, the difference was amazing – both in how I felt and in how the weight was easily coming off.  And it’s still a work in progress.  I still discover new plant foods that I incorporate into my diet on a daily basis.
Also, there is a new documentary called Forks Over Knives which follows a group of people as they transition from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet and the effect it has on their health. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fresh from the garden...braised mustard greens

Here's a delicious recipe for mustard greens that I found on Food Network.  The mustard greens definitely have a peppery taste that is very unique, but it is not as poignant when cooked (could be the bacon grease dulling that flavor...hard to tell...)

Braised Mustard Greens - Rachael Ray

Cook Time:  20 minutes
Level: Easy
Servings: 8

4 slices bacon, chopped
3 bunches mustard greens, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt
2 cups chicken broth

In a large skillet over medium high heat brown bacon and render its fat. Add chopped greens to the pan in batches and turn until they wilt, then add more greens. When all of the greens are in the pan, add vinegar and cook a minute. Season greens with sugar and salt. Add chicken broth to the pan and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer greens 15 to 20 minutes then serve.

Choppin greens in my mama's kitchen

Nutrition Analysis:  This recipe did not have a nutrition analysis so I used SparkPeople to estimate.  Per serving, 34 calories, 1.8 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 3.3 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, protein 2.2 g.

Thoughts:  We had plenty of mustard greens and collard greens so we just combined the two.  Delish.

Hubby's reaction:  Ate it all.  The first batch we made was too salty so he didn't like that.  He thought it would be better if it had tomatoes - like a BLT???

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hindsight is 20/20 and weighs more

Hunger shouldn't take you by surprise.

You don't go on your lunch break and suddenly think, "Well my goodness!  This is odd.  I suddenly feel like eating something."  And it's really not that strange when it's mid-afternoon and you've skipped breakfast and barely eaten any lunch and suddenly you're gripped with hunger which leads you, logically, to the candy machine.  Or, worse, you haven't eaten enough during the day and come home and raid the kitchen cabinets where no one is watching and you have all the time in the world.

Hunger doesn't sneak up on you.  How many times have you regretted eating something?  And how many times was that eating precipitated by being so hungry that you couldn't think about anything else but eating that food?  It's pure science, really.  We are designed to need food.  Our body is going to get it one way or another.  Either you're going to plan ahead and feed it before you hit "the point of no return" or your brain is going to go right past that mark and make you eat a whole bag of chips before you even realize what happened.

Plan ahead.  If you go home from work everyday starving and you tend to overeat once you're there, you need to eat an afternoon snack before you set foot in that doorway, preferably 1-2 hours before you hit the doorway.  Or if you constantly find yourself at the snack machine because you haven't eaten a big enough breakfast or lunch, you need to 1) eat a bigger meal and/or 2) bring your own snack.

When I'm at work, sometimes people will offer me snacks or desserts in the middle of the afternoon, and I usually decline (but definitely not always).  It makes me laugh when they say "Oh, she's so disciplined.  She doesn't eat that stuff."  I don't say "no" because I'm "so disciplined" and I'm having to fight back my true desires.  Ha!  The true story is that I'm not hungry because of the nice little snack that I had planned and brought with me.  It's much more enjoyable to plan ahead and feel good about your food choices, then to look back and regret that doughnut that you ate because your stomach was growling and you didn't have anything else to eat.  Hindsight is 20/20 and weighs more.

What about you?  Are you good at planning for that "point of no return"?  What's your favorite healthy snack?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How I Learned to Be Awkward

A few weekends ago, I went back to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for a wedding shower for my sweet friend and former roommate, Brooke.  Besides Brooke, I got to see some of my very best friends in the entire world - Morgan, Katie, and Kristen.  I also had a fabulous Starbucks date with my friend and former discipler, Sabrina.  My heart wells up everytime I go back to Bowling Green.  Not because I went to school there or met these girls there, but because I became a Christian and fell in love with Jesus there.

And these women had absolutely everything to do with it.

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller (love him or hate him) says, "Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself."  I didn't really know what it meant to love the Lord before I met my friends at college.  Sure, I grew up in church.  But I did most of my growing during the six other days of the week and God was pretty much contained to Sundays.  At first, I remember how awkward it was to hear my friends say things like, "God is teaching me this right now."  Or "Look at this verse.  What does Jesus mean right here?"  Or "The Lord is so good.  Look at what he's provided."  Or even "Will you pray with me?"  It was awkward because I had never heard God talked about in day-to-day conversations like that.  God was this far-off thing that didn't really have much to do with daily life.  But to hear my friends talking daily about how God was working in their lives was fascinating to me.  And now I suppose I'm just as likely to have those awkward conversations (though not at all awkward to me now).
The whole weekend in Kentucky made me reflect on how the Lord used these Godly women and several others to shape me and teach me.  And it wasn't really that I attended bible studies or church with them.  Yes, we did those things together, but I learned the most about trusting God from the day-to-day living with them.  I learned what they struggled with and I watched as they responded by clinging to Scripture.  We laughed and we cried together, and slowly but surely, I learned what it meant to love the Lord and to trust Him.  By his grace, the Lord started a work in me at 18 years old.  I look back at that time and stand in awe.  I am so thankful for the people that He placed in my life then and those that he has given me now.  Because this sanctification thing is certainly not over.  The weekend made me realize how I still have to be intentional about friendships and community.  Yes, I keep up with my BG friends, but he has also given me new people to learn from and do life with.  And. praise the Lord, I am "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6). 

I don't know why exactly I felt like sharing this on here.  Partly because I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude to God that I needed to write about it  and reflect on it.  But I also wanted to encourage anyone reading this to seek out community.  I have read several books lately that encourage you to make an effort to spend time with people who you know love Jesus.  So often we can think to ourselves, "well they didn't invite me to this" or "they didn't talk to me", so we blame our lack of effort on the other person.  I encourage you:  put yourself out there.  Be the first to start a conversation.  Invite them to do something with you.  I know that the Lord will provide community for you.  And your life will be so blessed because of it.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 - We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, becaue you had become so dear to us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Garden Update Week 5

The rainy weather has prevented me from taking many pictures of the garden lately.  I took advantage of the break in the weather to record the progress.



Sugar snap peas

Earlier this week, my mom told me that I needed to come pick some mustard greens.  The night I stopped by, she wasn't at home, so I ventured out to pick some of the greens which I have never cooked before.  I knew what the collard greens looked like because they conveniently had a label:

The plant to it's right looked similar so I happily plucked off some of the leaves and went on my way:

In case you are ever in a similar What plant is this again? dilemma.  This is what mustard greens look like:

Oops!  Thankfully, I realized my mistake before I fixed sauteed Brussels sprouts leaves.  But Mom and I had a good laugh.  She thought a rabbit had destroyed her plant.  Nope.  Just me.

Note to self: Don't wear flip flops in the garden.

This weekend we fixed the mustard and collard greens, so look for that recipe later this week!