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February 27, 2009

How to Choose A Healthy Cookbook

The news that the much-loved Joy of Cooking has increased the calories in several of its recipes over the years has been controversial with some in the nutrition business. While news reports used scare tactics to warn us that our cookbooks could be making us fat, dietitian Maggie Green, who consulted on a recent edition of Joy, was skeptical that the study only analyzed 18 recipes out of thousands and that newer editions use less processed foods. “I still defy anyone to cook and eat sensibly at home and become obese,” Green told the blog Nutrition Unplugged. It's interesting to think about portion sizes and how they've changed over the years. I'd wager that most people don't stick to one portion as directed by the recipe. This got me thinking about cookbooks and what they can do for us. They're tools that we can use to our advantage or keep us entrenched in unhealthy patterns. What's the best cookbook for you?

We asked Robyn L. Priebe, Green Mountain at Fox Run's director of Nutrition, to dish out advice on choosing the right cookbook.

Assess your individual needs. Do you have trouble fitting enough veggies into your meals? Then how about springing for a book that focuses on new ways of preparing greens. Clueless about whole grains? Why not go for a book dedicated to demystifying them? Busy? Look for recipes that are especially good to make ahead and freeze. Think about what you'd like to change about your eating habits and hone in from there.

Know yourself. Maybe you need a cookbook that's really going to do the thinking for you. Some offer pre-planned menus, even grocery lists. On the other hand, if you balk at having to follow "rules" you might want recipes that you can mix and match.

Is is easy to use? Do many of the recipes have more than 10 ingredients? Can you pronounce them all? Are they practical items you're likely to have around the house? Are they affordable?

Don't jump straight on the low-fat bandwagon. If you want to lose weight, a low fat cookbook might not be the way to go. Will the meals be satisfying? Here at Green Mountain at Fox Run we use regular recipes and modify them. Consult a recipe substitution guide such as this one from the Mayo Clinic. Just because a recipes claims to be low fat doesn't mean it doesn't have extra sugar or salt to boost flavor. If you have a specific problem you want the cookbook to address like diabetes, heart health, etc. go with the experts. Look for books endorsed by the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. They hone in on specific problems while also maintaining the big picture.

Do you really need to count calories? Many "Healthy" cookbooks include nutrition information for every serving. This can be helpful to some, but others can easily get caught up in diet mentality and crunching the numbers. If you are being mindful and and eating only until you're full, calories matter less.

Get inspired. Don't let those cookbooks gather dust on the shelf (you know they're just sitting there). Before you purchase a new book make sure that the recipes make your mouth water. Then, challenge yourself to make a new dish once a month to keep things fresh. Your palate will thank you!

New to cooking? Check out our new DVD, First Kitchen: Step-by-step Cooking for First Time Cooks, on sale online at our healthy lifestyle shop.

Photo by foéÖþoooey via flickr.

Posted by Emily on February 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 26, 2009

Healthy Recipe: Cinnamon Orange Pancakes

55wqb1v9Find yourself skipping breakfast on a regular basis? By depriving yourself in the morning, you could be paying for it all day and may end up overeating later. With this recipe for Cinnamon Orange Pancakes, courtesy of the American Heart Association, you won't want to miss your a.m. meal. Is there anything better than warm pancakes on a blustery February morning? 

(Makes 6 servings)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon grated fresh orange zest
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 large egg, or egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg
Vegetable oil spray
Cooking Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flours, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the vegetable oil spray. Pour into the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Don't overmix.

Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Remove from the heat and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray (being careful not to spray near a gas flame).

Using a 1/4-cup measure, pour the batter onto the griddle. (You should have 12 pancakes.) Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tops are bubbly and the edges are dry. Turn over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Photo by rstanek via flickr.

Posted by Emily on February 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 25, 2009

Is Breakfast a Must for Healthy Eating?

995328_breakfast My 17-year-old son is finally showing a glimmer of interest in healthy eating.  And just because he's male doesn't mean he's immune to the diet mentality.  Given our society's obsession with weight, the potential is great for the diet mentality to lurk behind even the most innocent-seeming question about what or how we eat. So when he asks questions like the one above, I always look at it from a dieter's perspective. 

If you look at it from a dietitian's perspective, it's clear.  Studies show breakfast is an important meal; it gives us energy to get through the morning, and we're not distracted by hunger.  Ever try to really focus on something when your stomach is calling?  It's almost impossible.

But from a real-life perspective, eating breakfast depends on two things:  1) Are we hungry? and 2) Can we tell if we're hungry (and if we can, do we care)?

Using Hunger as a Guide

The real life of a 17-year-old male is worth exploring in answering whether we're hungry.  (No, I won't go into the details. :-)).  I'm talking about the fact that many teenagers stay awake into the wee hours, and get up past noon.  My son is definitely one of those. So when he goes to bed at 2 am, and isn't hungry when he has to get up early the next day, I don't push it.  He probably ate within a few hours of going to sleep, and he really isn't ready for another meal yet.  I am confident about this because I know he is clear when he is hungry and needs food. I'm also confident that he usually eats when he is hungry, unless it's not possible at the moment.  If he's going to be in a situation where he won't have access to food, I might push him to take something with him.

With the diet mentality, though, whether we eat breakfast or not usually isn't about hunger.  Indeed, many weight strugglers can no longer even tell when they're hungry and when they're not. Instead, dieters are all about trying to eat as little as they can, regardless of hunger. The different complications of this approach to eating are numerous, but have a common outcome.  We end up with distorted eating patterns and behaviors that don't get us where we want to go.

So bottom line re breakfast: If the reason we're not eating it is to control our weight, we're probably better off trying to get something down within a few hours of waking. 

The rest of us can rely on our hunger cues.  They really are trustworthy.  And we can trust that they'll generally drive us to get something down within a few hours of waking, whether we wake at 6 am or the middle of the afternoon.

What about you?  Do you rely on your hunger cues, and eat breakfast when they tell you to, or does a schedule for eating breakfast -- and other meals -- work best for you?  If the latter is true, why do you think that is so?

Posted by Marsha on February 25, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 24, 2009

Healthy Eating: Flippity-Flop the Potassium and Salt

Cindy's taking some rare time down the first part of this week, but faithfully left this look at what we eat for me to post in her stead.  Enjoy that massage, girl!

K8666-1i On average, Americans eat twice as much sodium (salt) as potassium, just too darn much of the stuff -- and much of it unknowingly.  Since convenience is king, most Americans still buy lots of processed foods which contain oodles of sodium.  If you're leaving the grocery store with most of your goodies in a can or box, it's highly likely you're consuming much more than the 2300 milligrams of sodium recommended by The American Dietetic Association

The truth is, salt makes food taste better -- so what's a salt-lover to do?

Findings from a new study at Loyola University Chicago provide interesting insight into the intriguing and ever-sexy world of dietary minerals.  Turns out encouraging a more intimate relationship between potassium and sodium may have some really important heart health benefits.

"Potassium and sodium are like peas in a pod, except they're in opposite pods," says epidemiologist Paul Whelton, president and chief executive of the Loyola University Health System in Chicago and one of the authors of the study. "This is the first study to show that the two together give you a benefit over and above what you can get with either one."

Healthy eating might mean simply consuming half as much sodium as potassium.  The recommended daily intake of potassium is around 4,700 mg -- twice as much as sodium. But researchers speculate that more potassium may even 'soften the blow' of higher amounts of sodium.  What are good sources of potassium?  Fruits (especially dried fruits like apricots, raisins and dates), avocados, nuts, beans, potatoes (both white and sweet) and brightly-colored vegetables.

We read and review lots of studies here at A Weight Lifted, and more often than not, it comes back to what your grandma told your momma, and hopefully your momma told you , "Eat your fruits and vegetables, eat fresh, and use salt to taste -- preferably from your own hand."


Posted by Marsha on February 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 23, 2009

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

NEDA_Poster-Awareness_09-05-08forWEB On A Weight Lifted, we often blog about women who struggle with body image, binge eating, emotional eating, and unhealthy dieting - all issues which relate to more serious and sometime life-threatening eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we -as a society - could prevent more people from undergoing the same difficulties?

The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.

What is NEDAwareness Week?

NEDAwareness Week is a collective effort of primarily volunteers, eating disorder professionals, health care providers, educators, social workers, and individuals committed to raising awareness of the dangers surrounding eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment.

How NEDAwareness Week Works

NEDAwareness Week participants organize events, share stories and distribute educational materials at schools, fitness centers, offices, community centers, places of worship and more mainly during the last week of February each year. As an official NEDAwareness Week participant you can be involved in any way that works with your schedule, resources, community, and interests. For example, you could donate copies of GO GIRLS!™ and Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to Eat and Love Their Bodies Too! to schools, ask your workplace to participate in the NEDA Wear Your Jeans to Work Fundraiser, coordinate a first annual NEDA Walk, or arrange interactive and educational activities such as panel discussions, fashion shows, body fairs, movie screenings, art exhibits and more.  These events and activities attract public media attention - on local, national and international levels.

Until Eating Disorders are History....

Find out more how you can volunteer, obtain information, and show your support. Visit the National Eating Disorders website and get involved!

Posted by Laura on February 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 20, 2009

This Week on the Web: Barbie to Bollywood

Babble.com discusses a controversial ad campaign uses Barbie to teach kids about obesity.

The International Herald Tribune ponders: "Does the consumption of artificial sweeteners lead to weight problems?"

The Nutrition and Food Web Archive blog says "Constantly analyzing food choices doesn't help women lose weight."

Msnbc.com has the latest on the Bollywood dance fitness craze.

The New York Times on the sport of extreme stair climbing.

Time magazine examines whether veggies are as nutritious today than they were 50 years ago.

Diabetes self Management has an interesting video regarding the proposed "obesity tax," comparing soda and milk.

Diet-blog asks: "Is your diet too restrictive for long-term health?"

Posted by Emily on February 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Body Image: And the Award Goes To...

3001714590_5a895d93fd On Sunday, much of the country will be glued to their televisions watching celebrities partying at the Oscars. But many of the Hollywood A-list appear to have looks that few of us can achieve. If you're watching the red carpet frenzy and feeling like the standard of beauty you see is unattainable (and unrealistic), here are a few things worth keeping in mind:

  • First and foremost, silence your inner critic. At Green Mountain we talk a lot about size and self acceptance. Comparing yourself to others isn't useful. You are your own standard. You don't have to live up to anybody else's. If you feel good and are healthy, that's what matters most.
  • Many of the "normal people," not the super-celebs, but the costume designers, composers and other production artists that make it onto the stage look a lot like you and me. They're regular people with careers in film who may not be Angelina Jolie, but still look elegant in an evening gown. Why some of these women don't make it onto the red carpet pre-show is beyond me.
  • Whether it's crash diets or pills, many celebs slim down before the award season in dangerous ways. Would you want to be "thin" if it meant gambling with your health?
  • Take your cue from the lovely Oscar-nominated Kate Winslet, who recently told Nightline : "I've decided I'm going to start loving my backside."
  • All the women are wearing Spanx body slimmers and other modern-day corsets squeezing them from all sides. While Spanx can't give you a new body, it certainly smoothes out problem areas. But would you rather be sitting in your living room in sweats or wearing an uncomfortable air-tight body suit with heels?
  • Root for first-time nominee Melissa Leo for her starring role in Frozen River. Leo plays a single mom struggling to make ends meet. She doesn't look glam even once in the film, which she performs in entirely without make-up. Some reviewers thought it was harsh to make her look so stark, but hey, it's reality.
  • Celebrities are people, too. Best Supporting Actress nominee Viola Davis lamented to the New York Post: "Now with all the parties and wine and cheese, I have to watch myself. Can't be going bald and shoveling it in with all those skinny-ass gorgeous girls at the Oscars." Wow, an Oscar nominee that worries that other actresses are skinnier and more gorgeous than she is. No matter how famous or successful, we're all insecure!
  • No matter what your size, try to be Happy-Go-Lucky and let go of all the small ways that you judge yourself on a daily basis. This undermines your success and generally brings you down. Focus instead on the positive changes that you're making and have made in your life.  
Photo by cliff1066 via flickr.

Posted by Emily on February 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2009

Healthy Recipe: Tagine of Moroccan Vegetables and Chicken with Cous Cous

Think vegetables are blah? Think again! This colorful and tasty dish combines vegetables, fruit and chicken with lots of flavorful spices to create a Mediterranean flair that's sure to entice.

(Makes 4 servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup butternut squash cut in 1- inch chunks
1 1/2 cups diced canned tomatoes
16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut in 4 pieces)
1 cup zucchini, cut in 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons raisins

3/4 cup cous cous
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup toasted almond slivers

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring often, until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper and cook stirring, about 1 minute. Add carrots, squash and tomatoes and add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken, cover and continue to cook until the vegetables are just tender and the chicken is almost cooked. (about 15-20 minutes). Stir in the zucchini and raisins and continue to cook about 10 minutes or until all of the vegetable are tender.

Meanwhile in large sauce pan cook 3/4 cup of cous cous according to package directions. Toss with olive oil.

To serve spoon about 1/2 cup cous cous on a plate and top with 1 chicken breast piece and about 1 cup of vegetable mixture. Garnish with toasted almonds.


Posted by Emily on February 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2009

Healthy Eating: Does It Help to Slow Down When We Eat?

At Green Mountain, we’re not proponents of strategies to artificially reduce the amount of food we eat, to try to fool our bodies that we’ve had enough.  They don’t work.  Our bodies know when we need more food.  Even when we try to trick it, the hunger drive wins the vast majority of the time.   

1102894_traffic_warning_sign__9 It’s not our fault we don’t understand that.  We’ve been taught that we can ‘control’ our hunger, but the long-term success of most diets proves that wrong. The good news is many of us have woken up to the fact that our bodies are in charge; we can only listen and respond intelligently if we want to support our best health and healthy weight.  ‘Artificial’ strategies just continue to drive us away from reconnecting with our internal wisdom, which is what really works for women's weight loss and healthy living.

So when I read a study conducted at the University of Rhode Island and published in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association that showed eating slowly did, in fact, reduce calorie intake, I was skeptical that it was just another investigation into ‘ways that help us cut calories.” I did not have high hopes that it was about feeding ourselves in a manner that makes us feel well (a better bet for healthy weight loss, if it's in our cards, and healthy weights).

But I was wrong.  This study offered some potentially good insight into the practice of feeding ourselves well.

The study looked at whether we could be satisfied with less, even when faced with plenty, simply by slowing down.  It wasn’t about trying to restrict, or somehow control what the women who were being studied ate. The women ate as much as they wanted of identical meals twice, once quickly and once more slowly, in random order.

The findings:

•    The average length of meals was 21 minutes longer when the women ate slowly.  The results of which support the idea that it takes about 20  minutes for our bodies to start getting the signals that help us know when we’ve eaten enough before we’ve eaten too much.

•    The women who ate quickly ate more calories.  No surprise there.

•    The women who ate quickly reported lower satiety (translated: I’ve had enough) ratings, even though they ate more calories.  That’s kinda surprising.

•    The women who ate more slowly drank significantly more water during the meal.  So does that mean water was responsible for feeling more satisfied with less?  Don’t know, except that other studies don’t all show that, nor do they all show that drinking more water reduces caloric intake at a meal.  Plus, if we’re drinking water to try to make  us eat less, we’re toying with artificial strategies.  If we truly need more fluid, drinking plenty is a healthy thing to do.  If we don’t, and we’re drinking to fill ourselves up with calorie-free stuff, then it’s a diet technique, a strategy to artificially control our hunger.  (See beginning of this post.)

•    At meal’s end, those who ate more slowly rated their meal as more palatable (although difference wasn’t statistically significant).  Could it be that eating slowly gives us more time to enjoy our food?  Go, mindful eating! (Although at least one study showed those who ate faster gave their meals higher taste ratings.  Must have been something wrong with the study. I admit I’m biased.)

•    Small bites, pauses between bites and thorough chewing ‘resulted in considerably decreased eating rate.’  Some studies show the same thing; others don’t.  The best statement about one that showed the strategy didn’t work: “The authors suggested that timed pauses during meals are frustrating and that increased intake reflects the subjects’ frustration.”  Ha.

•    This study was done on only 30 women.  A small number, plus the researchers question if men would react the same way.  But we know the answer to that, don’t we? ☺

Bottom line, we don’t know if the findings of this study are relevant to all of us.  And that leaves us where we often find ourselves – relying on our own reactions to tell us whether something is right for us as individuals.

Of course, that’s what mindful eating is all about.  Tuning in to find out what feels good and what doesn’t.  And slowing down – at least initially – can help us tune in, especially if we’re fast eaters to begin with (and many of us are).  We can find out what feels good pretty easily by ourselves, I think, if we give ourselves the chance.  The bonus:  We get to enjoy our meals longer.  

Try slowing down while you eat.  Then let us know if it helps you eat less and enjoy it more, not necessarily to lose weight but to feel better!

Posted by Marsha on February 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 17, 2009

Healthy Living: Blah, blah, blah, blog...

Blog Admittedly, not every day is a blogerific day. In fact, some days it is really challenging to find something interesting to write about – but we try. (Somehow, I still manage to have an opinion about practically everything).

Here’s what’s on the healthy lifestyle news breakfast buffet this morning:

1. Multi-vitamins don’t do a damn bit of good. Marsha?! Is that true? Help us!! We’ve all been swallowing horse pills of every shape, size, and formulation for the past (fill in the blank) years and now we're being told to no avail? (I think you’re going to tell us to eat our vegetables, but I’ll leave that up to you).

2. Big bellies are a headache. Really? No kidding! Seriously, what next?

3. Starbucks may be giving middle management a stroke this past month, but not consumers! And I was feeling guilty about my two gigantor mugs of Starbucks French Roast every morning...

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Posted by Cindy on February 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack