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Curcumin―the active form of turmeric―has shown promise in the prevention and therapeutic management of Alzheimer’s Disease. While much research remains to be done for conclusive evidence, adding turmeric in food preparation may show some benefits. The appropriate amounts of curcumin supplements remain unclear. Without more definitive research, it is wise to avoid these supplements and rely on its use in foods.

While the use of curcumin supplements remains uncertain, a little turmeric added into your dishes can provide one more step toward healthy eating. I recall as a child my mother sprinkling this distinct flavored spice on coleslaw. Occasionally, I do the same. Curious as to how I could use this spice that has been advocated for several years as affecting memory, I sought new recipes. You can find a few online, but I stayed with the tried-and-true, a Green Tomato Relish. This recipe has been handed down in my family from generation to generation for about 100 years.tomatoes green

 

Green Tomato Relish

1 gallon ground green tomatoes

5 green sweet peppers

1 hot red pepper

6-8 small white onions

1 stalk celery

1 medium head cabbage

½ cup salt (not iodized)TURMERIC .jpg

4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon mustard seed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 quart vinegar (5 percent acidity)

juice of 4 lemons

Grind vegetables together. Add salt. Put into a cheesecloth bag and drip (several hours or overnight). Mix spices, sugar, lemon juice, and vinegar. Heat to dissolve sugar. Add vegetable mixture gradually, combining with vinegar mixture, and heat thoroughly. Pack into hot, sterile jars and seal. (I water bath for about 20 minutes to make sure no microbes remain). This can remain sealed and stored for several months.

Another choice is to use curry. How does curry compare to turmeric? Curry is a combination of spices; turmeric, chili powder, and cumin. Because it has turmeric in it, it has similar qualities and nutritive values but in smaller quantities. Include this spice as well not only to enhance flavor of favorite dishes, but as a bonus to a healthy diet. Below is another family favorite, Chicken Asparagus Casserole, that began with my generation.

Chicken Asparagus Casserole 

8-10 frozen chicken breasts stripsCURRY

¼  cup olive oil

1 can asparagus pieces (15 ounce)

1 can asparagus spears (15 ounce)

1 can (10 1/2 ounce) low-fat cream of chicken soup

½ cup calorie reduced salad dressing (Miracle Whip)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Defrost 8-10 chicken breast strips. Place in a microwavable dish, cover and cook until tender (or brown lightly on both sides in a skillet with cooking olive oil). Drain asparagus (or peas) and place in bottom of 9″ X 9″ X 2″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (I often use 2 (15 ounce) cans of Lesueur sweet peas instead of asparagus or one can of peas and one can of asparagus spears). Top with chicken strips. Mix together soup, salad dressing, lemon juice and curry powder. Pour over chicken and asparagus. Top with shredded cheese. Cover and bake at 375o F. for 30 minutes. Leftovers freeze well.

How do you use turmeric or curry? Please share some of your favorite healthy dishes. We all want new ways to keep our memories intact.

 

Here we are nearly one month into 2020. Varied surveys rank weight loss or healthy eating near the top of new year’s resolutions. If you resolved one more time to lose weight or eat healthier, how is it going? Regardless, don’t despair. The fact that you recognized the need is a step forward. Keep going.Image result for New Years resolutions free clip art

While calories do count, some individuals may jeopardize weight loss because they eat too few calories. That’s right. Extreme limiting of calories may cause weight gain. Metabolism slows to compensate for less food energy. Too few calories may increase output of cortisol, a hormone related to psychological and physical stress. Increased cortisol levels may result in several side effect, among them, depression, tiredness, muscle weakness, and weight gain.

Most of us have a problem with eating too much. After a few weeks of starving ourselves to lose weight or eating foods we don’t like instead of those hearty meals we’re used to, we give up. Deal with the problem as though you are the manager or boss. After all, you are. No one else can control what you eat. Here are a few suggestions to take control of yourself and your eating pattern.

  • Decide where the actual problem lies. Analyze why you eat too much or why you eat unhealthy foods. We tend to rationalize or blame something or someone else. But it is our choice. Be honest with yourself.
  • Make a plan. Once you identify the real problem, decide how you will tackle it. Consider if you get enough rest and sleep. Getting a good night of sleep can do wonders. Food isn’t always the problem, but for most of us, it probably is. Maybe it’s those late-night snacks. If so, find an alternative. Plan how you will adjust to improve. Sometimes it’s a matter of not gaining more weight, and that too, is a win-win.
  • Prepare meals at home. Ordering in pizza doesn’t count. With today’s modern conveniences and the multiple pre-prepared foods on the market already chopped, sliced, or seasoned, cooking at home has become quicker and easier. Also take a lunch to work. Just make healthy choices and include fruit for dessert. These steps can save money and calories. For incentive, take money from your pocket, and put it into a special container. I know, we use credit cards, but seeing cash may have a greater impact. Set a time, maybe once monthly or every three months, and check your savings. Now spend those savings on something you will enjoy other than food, maybe entertainment, a hobby, or a new outfit.

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These are starter suggestions. Pick those you know will work for you. While exercise is another important choice, if you know you aren’t going to follow through, why list it? Choose things you will do. Start eating healthier and get that weight where it belongs for a healthier you. You are worth it.

 

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This png image - 2020 Red PNG Clipart, is available for free download

On the cusp of a new year, how did 2019 meet our expectations? We may have celebrated special events along with experiencing problems and difficulties. Some choose this time of year to set goals or declare objectives to reach in the coming year. It’s a favored time to decide to take better care of our bodies whether making better food choices or paying attention to habits in our lives that prevent optimum health. Often topping our to-do list is losing weight.

Ted Kyle in his blog on ConsciencHealth identified ten major issues likely to expand in 2020. I have condensed his explanations and included my thoughts on the topics.

  • Tailored Dietary Guidelines

Toward the end of 2020, new Dietary Guidelines for Americans will replace the current ones. As with most years, the new guidelines are beset with conflict. However, recommendations for children under two and pregnant women, based on a 2014 Farm Bill with emphasis in these areas, will come as a welcomed addition.

  • Ketogenic and Low-Carb Diets

Keto Diets continue to make news. The still controversial diet has been referred to as “health story of the year,” and The American Diabetes Association now considers it a viable option for those with type 2 diabetes. However, do not read this as a sanction from all dietitians.

  • Intermittent Fasting

Another controversial subject, IF, will continue to dominate nutrition news. Selected research has noted benefits for certain conditions including obesity, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and others. Should we all jump to this type eating pattern? Again, not all dietitians are on-board with this premise and more research may reveal different results. One thing for sure, it is not an ideal diet for everyone. Use caution and discretion.

  • Serious Pediatric Obesity Care

Methods to curb the rising tide of obesity in children is shifting. Some professional groups now recommend bariatric surgery for adolescents with severe obesity. New centers focused on comprehensive care of youth and children will surface during 2020. Children’s hospitals and clinics are advised to get involved with this new wave of abating childhood obesity.

  • Better Anti-Obesity Meds

When will anti-obesity medications rival bariatric surgery for treatment? In past years, several drugs have surfaced and failed. The new year could bring progress toward that goal. One promising option is Semaglutide. Another targeted obesity drug, setmelanotide, is awaiting FDA approval. Bimagrumab also shows promise.

  • Body Positivity

Weight bias continues to exist. With nearly 40 percent of the US population obese, fat shaming is unacceptable. Acceptance of people of all sizes will continue to strengthen in 2020.

  • Plant-Based Nutrition

For Vegans and others on a mission to change all of us to vegetarians, it isn’t just about nutrition. Many of them tout eating plants to save the planet. Like any new concept, businesses have latched on to this trend by giving us typical meat products (think hamburger) made from vegetables. If you are old enough, you may remember the soy burgers of yesteryears. From my observation, this is a new wrinkle on an old story.

  • Clean Processed Food Labels

First, what is a “clean processed food label”? A clean label is a consumer driven movement to return food to simple and wholesome. It’s more about what is not in a product than what is. Consumers demand natural, simple ingredients they can recognize, understand, and pronounce. Primarily, products will be less processed, a proven plus when it comes to health. Labels will include disclosure on additives and sugar and become more allergen friendly such as gluten-free, MSG-free, etc.

  • SADI-S

Bariatric surgery has become more common, especially the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass. While duodenal switch is less common, it can be highly effective. A variation of this procedure known as SADI-S shows promise as a more effective and safer option. More news and research should appear this coming year.

  • More Inclusive Fitness

Inclusivity has become an “in” word the past few years. Now it is moving into the fitness realm.  Because physical activity profoundly affects long-term health outcomes, the public’s focus on fitness will remain strong. However, fitness in past years has focused on those categorized as young, slender, and white. That’s changing while body inclusivity gains momentum. The overused word diversity has entered the fray. Most important are the efforts of the fitness industry to meet needs of an increasingly elder population. Hopefully, this trend will continue.

Whatever our needs and desires for better health, may we reflect on and revise our habits to achieve better health in 2020.

Good Health and God Bless

 

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With the year swiftly drawing to a close, we pause each November to reflect on and enjoy time with family and friends. The focus of celebrating Thanksgiving often centers on food, lots of food. Who can resist the urge to overeat? Tables piled high with turkey, stuffing, and all the trimmings followed by scrumptious, calorie-laden desserts even tempt those with strong will-power. Is there any hope of enjoyment without tripling the calorie count for the day? How do we cut calories?

We aren’t likely to leave the dinner table hungry, and most of us will feel overstuffed and uncomfortable. For the calorie-conscience, we can choose better options. The Men’s Health magazine published “10 ways to Shave 1,200 Calories off your Thanksgiving.” Here is the modified version:

  • Choose white meat of turkey instead of the dark. Dark meat contains more calories, and some of us prefer the white meat anyway.
  • Exchange bread servings for extra vegetables. Choose vegetables without extra toppings or creamed. If you must taste everything, select very small (about ¼ cup) servings. Remember the stuffing is actually bread.
  • Choose the right toppings (or try to make selections without any).
  • Go for Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Well, maybe. I once bought Greek yogurt for that purpose and evidently picked up the wrong container. When I retrieved it to use, I compared calorie counts on the reduced-calorie sour cream and yogurt. Much to my surprise, the Greek yogurt had more calories. The real point here is to check labels carefully.
  • Use the one-layer rule. Personally, I don’t like to pile other foods on top of my original layer. I can squeeze them close together, but not piled high. If you do stack yours, reconsider. When the plate has one complete layer, stop! The right selections helps avoid the problem.
  • Section off starches. Thanksgiving is a day with plentiful starches. Choose just one or two half-servings not to exceed a quarter of the plate.
  • Make your own cranberry sauce, it tastes better anyway. Lots of good recipes exist, but I use the one Image result for free clip art pixabay cranberrieson a package of fresh cranberries. Another great choice is fresh cranberries chopped with an orange and mixed. The family tradition in my household is an original congealed cranberry mold. See the recipe below.
  • Choose pumpkin pie over pecan pie. Dessert doesn’t have to be pie, but if it is, pumpkin pie has one of the lowest calorie-counts and pecan one of the highest. Maybe try a pumpkin pudding or mousse. The crust of any pie adds lots of calories. I don’t care for crust so I have no problem leaving it on my plate. That isn’t true of everyone.
  • Skip ice cream and whipped cream toppings on pie. If you want something to top that pie, consider frozen vanilla yogurt. Be sure to check the label to make sure it is lower in calories than equivalent amounts of ice cream.
  • For those who drink alcohol, limit the amount and/or choose those with lower calorie counts.

If you’re the cook, check for ingredients in recipes that come in lower-calorie versions or can be omitted. Consider other helps listed below for all meals, but especially during holidays.

  • Change to cooking methods that won’t add additional calories.
  • While a little flavor may be sacrificed when low-fat milk replaces whole, half-&-half, or cream, many recipes adapt just fine.
  • Omit high-calorie ingredients such as sugar, butter, and nuts, and maybe marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes. Top simple sliced and cooked versions with a sprinkling of butter and brown sugar.
  • Skip or limit the gravy. While a great addition to the meat and stuffing, a sparing serving or none suffices.
  • When hors d’oeuvres are served before a meal, skip or choose lower-calorie choices of fresh fruits or veggies without the dip.
  • Watch serving sizes. This may be the biggest downfall for most of us. If numerous dishes are offered, cut serving sizes even more.

Whatever your choices, try to make them healthy. Most of all, be thankful. God bless each of you during this Thanksgiving season.

CRANBERRY ORANGE THANKSGIVING MOLD
1  (6 ounce) package sugar-free orange flavored gelatin
2  cups hot water
1 1/2  cups pineapple juice, diluted with cold water
1  can whole berry cranberry sauce
1  (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
1/2  cup pecans, chopped
2  teaspoons orange zest, optional
Dissolve flavored gelatin in hot water. Add cranberries and mix. Drain pineapple. Add cold water to pineapple juice to make 1 1/2 cups. Pour and mix into gelatin mixture. Add orange zest, pecans, and crushed pineapple. Pour into oil-sprayed ring mold. Chill overnight.
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I recently returned from the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE – fence E), the annual meeting for dietitian nutritionists. Along with some 10,000 other members and professionals, I acquired updated information on some of the latest food products and nutrition research. One reminder about weight control came from a speaker in interaction with the audience. I don’t recall the session, but the speaker’s comment reverberated in my brain, “In the long run, weight loss diets can cause greater weight gain.” That’s not the exact quote, but close. How often do we hear about or experience weight loss only to regain pounds and exceed the starting point of the diet?

Our bodies need sufficient calories to accommodate body functions, but when we overindulge and acquire excessive weight, health problems may occur. We often seek remedies through unwise “dieting.” Several older studies confirmed negative results of dieting. Restricting calories increased secretion of the steroid hormone cortisol causing weight gain. Also, monitoring calories increased perceived stress resulting in added weight. Yet, about half of Americans continue to diet. Why?

In her October 2019 article “The ‘Biggest Loser’ returns‒should you watch?” dietitian nutritionist Susan Burke March explored the perils of rapid weight loss. Contestants for the TV show exercised for six to eight hours daily. The starvation diet resulted in failure to meet minimum nutritional needs. The outcome? While participants lost weight during the show over a short period of time, most regained it, and several surpassed their initial weight.

Eat, Food, Remove, Almost Time

What is the message here? Give up? That’s not the solution. We know the dangers of excessive weight. Worldwide projected estimates for diet related expenditures in 2019 expect to reach more than $206 billion even though weight gain seems to occur regardless of the type of weight-loss diet. Extreme diets play havoc with hormones and metabolism causing our bodies to need fewer calories. Our bodies adjust to starvation by lowering our energy needs to a minimal level. When we return to a normal diet with appropriate calories, we tend to gain more weight instead of returning to normal metabolism because our bodies have compensated for lower energy needs.

However there is hope for a healthy weight. Being the biggest loser isn’t the answer, being the biggest winner is. As March said, “Be a winner by making your diet a healthy one.” I have often alluded to this same advice in previous blogs. The perfect diet for us is the one that meets our nutritional needs with adequate calories for appropriate weight. Be a winner.

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We hear it again and again. Obesity is killing us! Are we listening, or maybe the question is do we care? A report, The Heavy Burden of Obesity 2019, identified obesity issues from a compilation of data from 52 countries as well as the US. Within the next three decades, obesity will result in 462 million new cases of cardiovascular disease and 212 million cases of diabetes. In the US, obesity will reduce life expectancy by nearly four years. In most of the countries, more than half of the population is overweight. In the US, that figure is nearly 70 percent. Most people have succumbed to sedentary activities, and 40 percent fail to consume enough fruits and vegetables. That’s a message for all of us whether we are obese or not. It matters.  Image result for free clipart pixabay obesity

This study and others show that obesity by itself isn’t the only culprit decreasing life expectancy. Many food-related practices under gird the reason for overweight societies.

The Lancet published a study from 195 countries on the relationship between dietary habits and chronic non-communicable diseases between the period 1990-2017. Diet-related deaths were highest in Uzbekistan and lowest in Israel. The US ranked 43rd. In 2017, eleven million deaths worldwide were linked to consumption of poor diets high in sugar, salt, and processed meat that contributed to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Subjects drank more than 10 times the recommended amount of sugary drinks, a common factor in obesity. They consumed less nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fruits than suggested by national dietary standards and used excessive amounts of sodium.Weight Loss, Weight, Nutrition, Scale

A study of nearly 45,000 French 45 years-of-age or older found that those who consumed greater amounts of ultra-processed food had a greater risk of early death. Ready-to-eat or-heat foods from ingredients combined with additives signified ultra-processed foods. Those of younger age, lower income, lower educational level, living alone, having excessive body weight and less physical activity were likely to choose ultra-processed foods.

These studies aren’t the first concerning obesity’s impact on longevity nor will they be the last. Most studies found obese men more susceptible to disease conditions leading to early death than were obese women. In some studies, obese men lowered their life expectancy as much as 20 years compared to 5 years for women. That’s significant.

In the US, obesity directly or indirectly impacts healthcare costs. Obesity accounts for more than 20 percent of healthcare dollars due to conditions caused or complicated by obesity. As we consider why healthcare costs continue to escalate, remember that the increasing number of people with obesity is a major cause. When society improves eating habits and decides to take positive action about the rising number of overweight and obese citizens, healthcare costs can decline. Issues of excessive weight and unhealthy food choices affect all of us. Are we listening? What are we willing to do about it?

Obesity, Health, Fitness, Identify, Disease, Symptoms

Is any one diet more effective than others? People with excessive weight extend well beyond borders of the United States. It is a worldwide dilemma. The purpose of World Obesity Day on October 11, 2019 is to draw attention to the need for all nations to address this escalating problem.

Many continue to look for the perfect plan to lose weight, and reading diet books has become an American pastime to find the secret. Numerous books promote special foods, meal plans, and food restrictions. Guidelines show authors’ viewpoints whether they are qualified to address the subject or not. Do they work? If all those directions are so good, why are multitudes in our society overweight or obese? Interestingly, most diet plans may work―for a short time.

The Christmas story about eight-year-old Virginia, the little girl who wrote the editor of the New York Sun, asked, “Is there a Santa Claus?” The answer reminds all of us “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and . . .  they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”  Yes, the perfect diet also exists, but we won’t find it on the best seller’s book list. The perfect diet for each of us is the one that keeps us well-nourished to maintain appropriate weight and remain active and healthy to give us “highest beauty and joy.”

My writings and blog posts address weight issues and our addiction to trying the latest fad or weight-loss potion. Recently, I published God’s Diet Plan: Seek Him First, my version of how to find our perfect diet. The foods we consume are personal and individual preferences―something each of us chooses. Nowhere does my book say to “eat this” or “don’t eat that.” We get to pick and choose the diet we want based on taste and the knowledge we gain about wise food choices. My book equips each of us to find the perfect diet for us with appropriate guidance in how to choose the healthiest foods and avoid overindulging.

 

You can find God’s Diet Plan: Seek Him First on Amazon/Kindle, Apple, and Nook by clicking the link or typing in the name of the book on each site. Read the preview and reviews on Amazon to consider if it may help you find the perfect diet. Let’s curb the worldwide obesity epidemic―one person at a time starting with each of us.

 

 

 

September is National Mushroom Month. Many recipes I prepare call for mushrooms. But rarely do I think to include them in favorites that don’t list them among the recipe ingredients. That’s a mistake. Mushrooms are beneficial in many ways and can be a part of any healthy diet.

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, rats fed a high-fat diet showed fewer signs of atherosclerosis when researchers added portabella and shiitake mushrooms. Future studies may determine if the effect proves true in humans.

Mushrooms contain the minerals, selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus. Some reasons to include them in the diet are because they 1) have high concentrations of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione which protect cells, 2) may have some preventive effect on the neurological diseases Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, 3) may boost memory and reduce mild cognitive decline, 4) improve heart health by substituting for portions of red meats, 5) strengthen bones by converting ergosterol into vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, and 6) increase energy because of rich amounts of B-vitamins which help cells convert glucose into energy.

Benefits may go beyond these assets. Mushrooms can be used freely in many dishes because of texture and flavor. But they are so much more because they are:

  • low in calories
  • fat-free and therefore cholesterol-free
  • gluten-free
  • low in sodium

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Mushrooms are fungi, but their characteristic nutrient content qualifies them to be categorized along with vegetables. The Mushroom Council states that they are wholesome, enjoyable foods that can help fill a void when we fail to eat enough vegetables.

Proponents of including mushrooms in the next Dietary Guidelines for Americans point out advantages because of their properties. These advocates support the concept of “The Blend,” the addition of mushrooms to dishes such as hamburger. Mushrooms enhance flavors due to their distinctive natural unami, and they create a more nutritious product. Such mixtures lower dietary fat and adds vegetable equivalents to the diet, especially significant for school children. Mushrooms can be a healthy asset and improve flavor in sauces, egg dishes (scrambled, omelets, quiche), salads, and meat mixtures (meatloaf, chili, burgers, etc.).

While mushrooms supply numerous nutrients for a healthy body, they are not a panacea. Studies on animals and insects look promising, but it is not a given those results will work in humans. Enjoy them for what they are ─ a delightful food to add for a healthy and tasty diet.