Monday, September 28, 2009

de-stressing

I really loved reading about your life ambitions…they definitely made me smile. Dream on, blogworld…you’re all amazing.

Even with a crazy workload this weekend, I didn’t exactly bury myself in the books. I ran in my favorite park, made a trip to Soulard, and went to yoga {stress = unbelievable muscle tightness…ick}. My roommate (also a dietetic intern) got a bunch of basil from the community garden at her rotation site, so we had our first experience with homemade pesto. It was pretty delicious.

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[note the tomatoes, lettuce, and zukes from farmers’ market]

I also made a coconut black beans, which incorporated 3 of my favorite ingredients: black beans, avocado, and coconut milk. This dish is also a good way to include protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fat (and medium chain triglycerides in the coconut oil) into your eats. Oh, that’s also mango on top. Interesting combo, but I promise it’s really good!

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I baked homemade bread from scratch. There is something really therapeutic about sticking your hands in dough or mixing ingredients with a spatula. Baking has always been one of my stress relievers.

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Why is chronic stress harmful?

When faced with stress, a flood of hormones is released in the “flight or fight” response. Normally, the body is able to recover from acute stress. However, continual or chronic stress can be damaging and may lead to conditions such as

  • impaired immunity
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • hair loss
  • heart disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • obesity
  • ulcers

What are some ways you ease the stress in your life?

I have a huge test tomorrow, but I’ll be back after that for a post on the progress the SLU interns made in our gardens this morning [it was a seriously good time].

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I also start my cardiovascular rotation tomorrow, so there’ll likely be some posts on heart-health coming soon...

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p.s.

Kristen of Eating RD tried out Dan’s Pumpkin Spice Bars…read her review here!

Monday, September 21, 2009

“that guy who makes energy bars.” [dan’s guest post]

My name is Dan, or according to Em, “that guy who makes energy bars.” I am an avid cyclist and an athlete and also a dietetic intern at St. Louis University (SLU).

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I have been cooking professionally for almost seven years now (really?? wow…I can’t believe it either). I got into cooking way before I ever had any formal culinary training, and before my first bus-boy job at 15 years old.

The first thing I ever made was a scrambled egg. I was so proud to cook with my Dad, who had a Saturday morning ritual of making the largest, dirtiest breakfast for my siblings and I. Later, I discovered that not only was my Dad a loving man for getting up with the sun to make us breakfast, but he also had an alternate agenda…to give us energy. After we ate mounds of scrambled eggs, buttery biscuits, crispy bacon strips, and glasses of OJ, he would hike us outside to perform several hours of chores a.k.a. manual labor. In a sense, my motive to make energy bars is very similar to my Dad’s.

Cycling requires continual fueling of its favorite energy source, carbohydrates. After spending bank vaults of cash and weeding through the sweet, salty, soft, and hard, and still feeling unsatisfied, I decided to make my own bars. I asked myself what I wanted in an energy bar, and formulated this equation in my head:

Clif Bar (minus) the overwhelming sweetness (plus) better texture = My bar (ideas for names???)

**If I don’t eat my bar, I eat Clif bars**

It’s been a little over a year since I made my first energy bar, and they’ve come a long way. My notebook is full of recipes, notes, and drawings of what has worked and what hasn’t.

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I love making energy bars because they are easy to grab on the go, pack a nutritious punch suitable for all types of activities, and they taste good. I also like playing scientist and developing recipes using my food science background. I’m going to share a new recipe I’ve been working on, Pumpkin Spice Bar, just in time for the autumn season.

Before we get started I should make a few quick notes:

· Energy bars are cheaper to make yourself, but they have a high start-up cost. Fortunately, most of the ingredients will last you for 2-3 batches.

· This is my baby. So, if you decide to sell the recipe and get rich, make sure I get a cut.

· Energy bars are fun; don’t be afraid to screw up. At the very least you’ll end up with some BOMB granola, right Em?

PUMPKIN SPICE BAR

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Ingredients:**

7/8 cup brown rice syrup

¼ cup almond butter

¼ cup pumpkin puree

1.5 Tbsp H20

½ cup dates, pitted and diced

½ cup Red Flame Raisins

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped

3 cups Kashi Warm Cinnamon Cereal

½ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup wheat germ

2 scoops Whey Protein Isolate (scoop is in container)

½ tsp fine granule sea salt

2 Tbsp pumpkin spice***

**You can find all of these ingredients at the Whole Foods

***2.5 tsp cinnamon, 1.5 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp nutmeg

Method: Combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well mixed.

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Then add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

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With clean hands, reach in and mix ingredients together until well incorporated. Clean your hands off, and get ready to portion the bars.

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**Fill a bowl with cold water. Dip your fingers in the water and rub them together so they are moist. This will help prevent sticky fingers (Sticky rice method)**

Grab ~½ a handful of the mixture and roll into a ball. Then place it on a baking tray lined with a Silicone baking sheet or spray the pan with pan spray. Repeat the ball step until all the mix is portioned (~15 balls). If you have an ice cream scoop, it may also work.

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Pick and pull bar mixture from the balls to make them as close in size as possible. Then flatten them out into bar shape (approximately 3”x2”x 1/2”)

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Bake them at 300 degrees for 14 minutes. They are not like most baked items, so pull them right at 14 minutes.

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Remove the bars from the oven, and let them cool completely. With a nice flat spatula, transfer the bars from the pan to a cooling rack.

Wrap the bars or put them into sandwich bags. They last for up to three weeks or a month (not a promise), but once I left one in my messenger bag for a month and a half during the summer, and it was still good.

Thanks for letting me post on the Health Nut; I hope you enjoyed it. Try the bars, and let Em and I know how they turn out.

Remember, bars are fun. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

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Hey friends, Emily here. If you enjoyed this post or have any questions on the methods to his madness, please leave Dan some comment love. I’m sure he’ll be back for some future posts, so stay tuned! [emc]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

is it amazing? [my take on amazing grass…p.s. i apparently like brackets]

Sorry for the lack of post-age this week. I’ve completely switched gears [to distribution aka foodservice], and I’m finding myself completely out of my element. I do have foodservice experience, but honestly…I feel uncomfortable in this setting. Needless to say, this experience is really stretching me in many ways. 

Teri Jo from Amazing Grass sent me a generous sampling of their products {thanks, thanks!}, and I was really excited because other bloggers have raved about them…and I was super excited because I love snail mail and anyone who uses the traditional postal system.

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 All of the energy bars from Amazing Grass are:

  • Raw
  • Cold Processed
  • Alkaline
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Vegan
  • One problem I have with any sort of supplement is the bioavailability of the nutrients in pill versus whole food form. I’m a big advocate of consuming whole foods because you receive nutritional benefits beyond just a concentrated burst of one nutrient or a bunch of random vitamins and minerals in pills that may actually work against one another and inhibit absorption. In addition, some compounds in whole foods work synergistically in ways we don’t understand. When we separate these compounds, they may lose their ability to confer increased nutritional benefits.

    Creators of Amazing Grass Green SuperFood say it is considered a whole food because it contains cereal grasses that can’t be isolated and put into a synthetic multi-vitamin. So many Americans fail to include the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables into their daily diets, and just one serving of AG Green SuperFood can provide the antioxidant power of 7 servings of fruits and vegetables.

    More about Green SuperFood:

  • Naturally balanced source of antioxidants, B- vitamins, carotenoids, phytonutrients, enzymes, dietary fiber and essential fatty acids
  • Sustains energy naturally and boosts your immune system
  • Probiotics and enzymes to aid digestion and absorption
  • Complete raw food with powerful antioxidants
  • Alkaline green plant foods help balance acidic pH levels
  • Non dairy, Gluten free, Non-GMO, Vegan
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    Sounds pretty impressive so far, right? I’ve only tried the Chocolate SuperFood and have to say it did taste a bit grassy, but hey, it is composed of organic wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, spirulina, chlorella, spinach, and broccoli. While I can’t really comment on the effectiveness of the products, I like that they are organic and do not contain GMOs. I’ll keep you updated on the correlation between AG consumption and energy levels. Has anyone tried AG and noticed any benefits?

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    Sorry for the lack of recipes lately, but I’ve been eating quick fixes like hummus + zukes & tomatoes in tortillas for lack of time. Hopefully, my upcoming posts will make up for this.

    Coming soon…reviews of raw organic vegan energy bars from Love Force and a guest post slash energy bar tutorial from one of my fellow dietetic interns {get ready blogworld, it’s gonna be sweet}!

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    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    perspectives: carbohydrates

    I love 4 day weeks. That’s all. I’ve had a great week at the hospital so far and got to educate a patient interested in change. If I have the chance to make a difference {even a small one} in one patient’s life or change the way he or she thinks for the better, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world.

    Keeping with the spirit of Monday's fiber post, I made zucchini brownies. I really hate to call them brownies because they didn’t taste like brownies. I’ve never found a recipe for from-scratch brownies that I liked better than the boxed artificial wonders {shh}. This recipe needs a little work, so don’t run to make it just yet {maybe it’s because I used whole wheat flour and eliminated most of the sugar, hehee}. Success stories on homemade brownies welcomed.

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    Speaking of sugar, one of my faves, HEAB, recently posted her opinion on eating excess refined sugar. I haven’t really commented on the sweet issue myself, so I decided to take the time to do so.

    Carbohydrates 101

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    [complex carb goodness: eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, & mozz on whole wheat bread]

    Sugar Definitions:

    refined or simple carbohydrates (sugar): monosaccharides-glucose (dextrose), galactose, fructose; disaccharides-sucrose, maltose, lactose; white sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup

    complex carbohydrate (starch): composed of many monosaccharide units, mostly glucose; polysaccharides; found in high fiber foods like legumes (i.e. beans, lentils, peas), starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruit

    Don’t be afraid of carbs:

    · The members of the nervous system (including the brain) are obligate glucose users...they can't use any other type of fuel! Also, glucose is the preferred fuel for the body and can be used in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

    · Some of the glucose you consume is also converted to glycogen for storage (can be later used to make glucose when the body's fuel is running on empty).

    · Refined sugar can lead to health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity (through insulin resistance). However an excess of carbs (even complex ones) can lead to weight gain because the body will continue to use glucose as a fuel and will not mobilize stored fat for energy. For that matter, an excess of any of the macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) will cause weight gain.

    Personally, I try not to eat too much refined sugar. By staying away from most packaged products, I do that. But, I do bake “moderation foods” with sugar and am completely ok with that.

    Confused? Leave me a comment or email me at healthnut.em@gmail.com

    *Shout out to my fellow interns {who now are blog readers): peds interns: Courtney, Crista, & Erin and the culinary interns: Dan, Irene, Justine, & Molly and our awesome GAs (Jenn & Meg) for an amazing first rotation. These are some pretty fantastic people, and I feel privileged to have been able to work with them for the past  {almost} two weeks.

    There will be some guest posts from the aforementioned interns ahead…Dan makes the best homemade energy bars I’ve ever tasted (watch out Clif bar) and has promised to share his secrets with all of us sometime next week!

    Also, find out what dietetic interns put in their lunch boxes…0

    Don’t forget: enter Gina’s contest to win a subscription of Nutrition in Action, which always has great info about health research and products!

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    fiber, it moves me

    That’s the slogan we adopted for our student dietetic association t-shirts, no kidding. My brother though it was such a hilarious saying that he claimed my shirt as his own.

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    Um…this photo is from my junior year of college. It must have been a bad hair…year.

    But yes, today’s post is about fiber.

    To start out my morning, I tried the infamous green monster{check out the GM movement}.My good friend and fellow OSU nutritionist Gina, recently tried her first green monster, so I decided to give it a shot.

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    monster mix:

    • 2-3 leaves kale (I know, I know…probably not the best idea because it is so darn bitter)
    • 1 banana
    • 1 T peanut butter
    • ~ 1 cup almond milk

    Honestly, I thought this might be terrible. I was wrong, though. Surprisingly, the sweetness of the banana and the almond milk surpassed the bitterness of the kale. Amazing. Can’t wait to see if it gives me more energy as many GM-lovers have said.

    So what’s so fantastic about kale anyway?

    • contains phytonutrients that may help prevent cancer
    • increases production of enzymes involved in detoxification
    • excellent source of pro-vitamin A
    • excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C
    • good source of fiber  (1 cup cooked = 10.4% DV)
    • very good source of calcium (1 cup of kale supplies 93.6 mg of calcium, 9.4% of the daily value for this mineral)
    • also a copper, vitamin B6, and potassium

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    [zucchini, my favorite summer vegetable and another very good source of fiber]

    I read a paper last week about  dietary fiber, which is often recommended for those who have diabetes because it promotes weight loss and increases insulin sensitivity.

    Soluble Fiber Insoluble Fiber
    partially dissolves in water does not dissolve in water
    sources: oats & oatmeal, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), barley, fruits & vegetables (esp oranges, apples, & carrots) sources: whole grain foods, nuts & seeds, flax seed
    -decreases postprandial glucose response
    -decreases total and LDL CHOL
    -decreases gastric emptying

    -decreases risk of type 2 diabetes
    -increases insulin sensitivity
    -speeds gut transit time

    Both types of fiber…

    • increase energy density, bulking effect (reduce diarrhea), & satiety
    • decrease weight gain & inflammation

    Recommendations for the general population:

    14 g of fiber/1000 calories consumed.

    For a 2000 calorie diet, this would be 28 g, etc.

    So, don’t forget to include some fiber in your diet today.  What are some of your fave fiber sources?

    Happy Labor Day!

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    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    quinoa and a diabetes tutorial

    Well, friends, week one of my clinical rotations is nearly over. I’ve really enjoyed interacting with patients so far, and I’m definitely becoming more comfortable in the hospital setting. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other interns and having discussions about both clinical care and other nutrition topics like local foods and eating raw.

    Speaking of raw, one of the interns brought this bar in for us to sample today. It was pretty good and reminded me a little of the Larabar. The best part? Raw Revolution bars are vegan and do not contain gluten, wheat, corn, soy, trans fat, cholesterol or refined sugar.

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    I went for a quick run after class tonight and came home for one of my favorite go-to meals. Quinoa is a  fabulous complete protein that only takes 15 minutes prep time at the most {more info on quinoa}. I have to say that I really prefer it served with fresh vegetables.

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    In the bowl:

    • quinoa (obviously)
    • chopped tomato
    • grated zucchini
    • garlic
    • cilantro
    • seasoned with: pepper, parmesan cheese, and a tad of olive oil

    As you can see, I’m really great at measuring things out. Honestly, I just tend to mix and match until everything tastes good.

    Some of you mentioned wanting to learn more about diabetes and its causes. Below is a little review for your information {and enjoyment}. Graphics courtesy of Karen Steitz, St. Louis University.

    The two major types of diabetes are type I and type II. This graphic depicts the development of type I diabetes. In type I diabetes, which can be the result of a genetic defect or perhaps environmental stimuli, the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed, causing a severe insulin deficiency (the beta cells produce insulin).  Type I patients require exogenous insulin because they don’t produce any.

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    In type II diabetes, insulin resistance is the major effect. The beta cells are not able to produce enough insulin to signal glucose to be taken up into the cells.  This can eventually lead to beta cell exhaustion and insulin dependency (which requires insulin shots).

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    So, what do we tell patients with diabetes? Exercise is beneficial for both types, especially for type II. Spreading carbohydrates throughout the day is important to manage blood sugar levels. We focus first on lifestyle modifications for type II patients. Often reducing weight increases insulin sensitivity and improves the condition.

    To reduce your risk of acquiring type II diabetes: maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, and exercise.

    Anybody learn anything new today? If you have specific questions about diabetes, feel free to ask. If I don’t know the answers, I’m sure the dietetic intern think tank can help me out.

    Tomorrow is Friday! Hello, 3 day weekend!

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