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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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Greetings faithful readers. 

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Christmas evokes traditions, memories, gifts, and much more. It’s the time of year when foods play a major role in our celebrations. Instead of more information to close out this holiday season, I refer you to a few previous Christmas posts from my blog.

While these food or food-related posts are important snippets of information, let’s not forget the most important aspects of this Holy Holiday.

For those who have forgotten or never knew, Christmas is the observance of the birth of Jesus Christ. In his brief ministry of about three years, Jesus declared many truths about himself. In John 6:48, he refers to himself as the “bread of life.” Indeed, he is. While residents of this world, the foods we eat feed our earthly bodies. Jesus alone is the bread of life for eternity. He proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to [God] except through me” (John 14:6).

Enjoy the holiday and all it has come to represent but don’t forget that Jesus is the real reason for this season. God bless.

Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

 

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What is Thanksgiving turkey and dressing without cranberry sauce? This unique, brightly colored food is a must for most during the holiday season.

Now, just in time for Thanksgiving comes information from the Cranberry Institute about the many health benefits of this bright red addition to our holiday meal. Alas, cranberries aren’t just for urinary tract infections (UTI). In a paper titled “A Berry for Every Body,” the Institute confirms a number of positive effects on human health. They identify seven specific conditions:

  • Anti-bacterial benefits: Compounds found in cranberries may help stop bacteria which can irritate infections in several body organs by sticking to cells.
  • Heart health: On going research shows promise of a connection between consumption of cranberries and heart health. A 2016 study showed that cranberry juice may help improve blood flow and blood vessel function.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Studies in 2009 found that in animal models, consuming cranberries significantly lowered pro-inflammatory markers. This suggests a potential protective effect for specific body functions impaired by inflammation.
  • Urinary tract health: This ongoing controversy continues. For decades, researchers have battled whether cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs. According to The Cranberry Institute, cranberry products help reduce the incidence and recurrence of UTIs. Some studies indicate otherwise and suggest that cranberry juice may not treat UTIs or bladder infections.
  • Antioxidant activity: Studies indicate that antioxidant activity in cranberries protects against destruction of free radicals. This is significant in such disease conditions as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Glucose metabolism: A 2017 study showed that dried cranberries added to a high-fat meal lowered glucose response and inflammation.
  • Gut health: Gut microbiota is a newer area of concern in physical health. Recent research indicates that cranberries may affect the gut microbiota in positive ways.

Cranberries are good sources of fiber plus the vitamins C, E, and K and the minerals copper and manganese. They contain high amounts of some plant compounds and antioxidants. Less familiar to us than vitamins and minerals, these substances include myricetin, peonidin, ursolic acid, and A-type proanthocyanidins which have shown promise in prevention of stomach cancer.

While these tasty red berries may or may not be a cure-all for ailments, it is a healthful food to include at Thanksgiving or other times. Try this Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Cranberries that I discovered and slightly modified last week.

Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Cranberries

2             acorn squash

1             cup onion, chopped                                                   Step 1 QUINOA CRANBERRY

1             cup celery, chopped

1             cup quinoa, plain or flavored

2             cups vegetable or chicken broth

1             teaspoon rosemary

1             teaspoon thyme

1             teaspoon sage

½           teaspoon black pepper                          FINAL QUINOA (2)

½           cup pecans, chopped

½            cup crumbled feta cheese, optional

1-2         tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Prepare the acorn squash. Wash outside of squash and cut into vertical halves. Remove seeds and pulp. Place cut side up in a baking dish and cook until tender, about 30 minutes, in a 400o F. oven.

Heat oil in a skillet and add onion and celery. Cook until tender and yellowish. Add quinoa, cranberries, seasonings, and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 18-20 minutes. Add pecans.

For larger acorn squash, cut halves vertically and spoon quinoa mixture onto each quarter. Sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired, and place under oven broiler unit until cheese begins to brown. This is such a filling dish a quarter should be enough for a serving. For vegetarians, use this tasty dish as a complete meal.

While this is a great fall dish when acorn squash and cranberries are plentiful, don’t forget the cranberry sauce to go with your turkey and dressing. It’s great from the can, either jellied or whole berry, or make your own from fresh berries. Most packages have a recipe.

COOKED CRANBERRIES

However you serve it, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day knowing that cranberries are nutritious and a delightful low-calorie addition.

 

 

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Halloween Pumpkin

Orange pumpkins are a part of Halloween, but have you considered a teal one? That’s right. The Teal Pumpkin Project intends to make Halloween safe for children with allergies. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) suggests alternatives to foods for trick or treaters who may be sensitive to certain foods. Instead of offering only edibles, provide inexpensive non-food items that will please little ones.
Teal PumpkinMore than 170 foods may cause food allergies, but the eight most common are: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Food allergies involve the immune system, and even foods that have previously caused mild reactions may suddenly result in a life-threatening situation. Food intolerance differs from food allergies. While symptoms of digestive problems, an upset stomach, or not feeling well may occur, they aren’t life threatening.

As many as 15 million Americans have food allergies. Among those who suffer are 5.9 million children under the age of 18. About one-third of children with food allergies have sensitivity to more than one food. Serious consequences may result whether the offending food is eaten, comes in contact with safe nonallergen foods, or is transferred to utensils used in food preparation. According to recent statistics, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes.

Healthy snacks are a great choice for most children. However, let’s do our part to keep all little goblins safe this Halloween. Place a teal pumpkin in a visible window or doorway to indicate your home is a reliable place to find nonfood treats. You will be glad you did, and so will all those who must carefully screen the foods they eat. 

 

 

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TRICK OR TREAT)

For many, Halloween is a fun day. Kids and adults dress up to pretend they are someone or something else. Baskets loaded with goodies―sugary sweet ones―highlight the evening for most children. It’s hard for a parent to explain to their three-year-old why they mustn’t eat all that sugar at once, especially before mealtime.

We could lament problems of too much sugar, but instead, let’s focus on alternatives. Changing times have made parents of trick or treaters more cautious about allowing their youngsters to accept homemade fares. But we can prepare healthy snacks for family and good friends. In close-knit communities, parents and children learn where to find safe treats and will look forward to your mouthwatering treasures.

For simple, healthy, and tasty treats, these Chocolate Peanut Butter Apricot Drops pack lots of nutrition that children and adults will love. And the real bonus? They are so easy to make. Even young children can help with parts of this preparation.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Apricot Drops

1/2                      cup margarine

1/2                      cup skim milk

1/2                      cup cocoa

1                          cup granulated sugar

1/3                       cup crunchy peanut butter 

1                           teaspoon  vanilla

3                           cups instant oats

40                        dried apricotsChocolate Peanut Butter Apricot Drops 1

 Place apricots in rows on a sheet of wax or parchment paper.  

Place margarine, milk, cocoa, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla in a large microwave proof bowl or a two-quart measuring cup. Heat until margarine melts and sugar is dissolved, about two to three minutes. Stir mixture and add oats. Mix thoroughly. Drop cookie mixture onto apricots. 

Step 2

Let cool. Makes about 40 drops.

Serve plated or place in individual bags. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Apricot Drops

Halloween Drop Gifts

Keep a basket close by of varied healthy snacks for those who aren’t comfortable taking home-prepared foods. Let children choose from purchased individual treats such as:

  • Cereal bars
  • Miniature boxes of raisins
  • Individual packets of peanuts or other nuts (lightly salted if available)
  • Individually wrapped rice cakes
  • Selected packets of Nabs
  • Babybel or string cheese

Other great possibilities include fruit cups, small bottles of water, or other choices that come to mind.

Don’t forget about fruits. Who could resist these adorable little tangelo jack-o’- lanterns? Maybe fill a basket with these along with miniature bananas and small apples.

Jack o Lantern

There’s no reason for kids to miss out at your house. These interesting selections just may be the hit of the neighborhood. And remember how much healthier these little goblins will be as they grow into the next generation. Make this Halloween memorable. Scare away tricks of too much sugar with healthy treats. Yummy!

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This Mother’s Day give Mom a priceless gift we all strive toward―better eyesight, healthier heart function, and improved memory. Who doesn’t want that? Mom can anticipate this health package while salivating over a box of dark chocolates tied with a lovely bow.

That’s right. Dark chocolate―the most craved food by women―is a present that keeps on giving in the form of more positive health outcomes. New research finds that decadent rich dark chocolate helps protect from several health issues that are more likely to progress as we age.

Don’t expect a prescription for dark chocolate from an ophthalmologist any time soon, but this yummy “melt in your mouth” sweet continues to show promise in improving vision. Researchers compared 26-year-olds given a 1.5 ounce of Trader Joe’s 72 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate bar with a Trader Joe’s Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate bar of similar size. About two hours later, participants underwent vision tests using the standard letter-based eye chart. Those who consumed the dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate showed a slight, although significant difference in visual acuity.

Dark chocolate contains greater amounts of flavanols, often referred to as heart-healthy compounds. How this affects eyesight isn’t known but may result from increased blood flow to the retina or to the cerebral cortex of the brain.

With brain function in mind, dark chocolate may reduce stress levels and inflammation. A bar or piece with at least 70 percent cacao, the source of flavonoids, stimulates areas of the brain involved in memory. It’s also a mood elevator and may improve sensory processing, the ability of the brain to receive and respond to information that comes through our senses.

This tasty treat may have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. Moderate amounts of dark chocolate may lower the risk of atrial fibrillation. The delectable food seems to help loosen stiff arteries and prevent white blood cells from sticking to artery walls. As little as one chocolate square may slightly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. To some extent, small amounts may lower LDL cholesterol.

Other health issues have been linked to chocolate. It benefits the immune system through increased numbers of white blood cells which fight infection and disease. Limited studies found it may play a role in preventing diabetes. Who knows what other health conditions may be linked to something so enjoyable to eat?

Like many things, there’s a caveat. Chocolate is high in calories. However in the studies cited, researchers emphasized that limited amounts (in one study a square of dark chocolate had 30 calories) can benefit our physical well-being. The smallest portion may help maintain health.

Show Mom extra love this Mother’s Day with a special gift for better health and a delight to her palate. How can she resist a box of chocolates?

Assortment of Beautiful Sweet Chocolates in Box Top View. Chocolate Pralines Mix Background

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As we close the chapter on 2017, many of us think of plans we made for the past year and failed to accomplish. This blog, as a part of my theme “To Nourish Body and Spirit,” emphasizes good nutrition. We make resolutions or goals at the beginning of each year to lose weight or improve eating choices. Sometimes we chastise ourselves mentally because we failed to achieve those goals. Instead, why not focus on things we did right? We can’t undo the past, but we can forge ahead on positives.

Here are points to consider.

  1. Remember the positive choices you made throughout the year to choose healthy foods.
  2. Reflect on your greatest accomplishments in making wise food choices.
  3. Ponder constructive decisions about relationships and foods that made you feel good.
  4. Recall walks or exercise you attempted.
  5. Think about the times you abided by safety rules to keep foods safe.
  6. Likewise, meditate on the way you nourished your spirit. Hints. More prayer, Bible study, sharing with the less fortunate. You finish the list.
  7. Identify five things from 2017 that gave you joy and contentment, and consider how you can expand those experiences in the future.

Many throughout our nation and worldwide experienced devastating natural phenomena or mass shootings during 2017. Yet, several expressed thanks in the midst of hurricanes, floods, fires, and senseless carnal disasters. You, too, can find joy and blessings in many seemingly negative situations. When you do, hold onto them, nurture them. God bless you as you strive to improve your attitude and live your life to the fullest in the year ahead. Contemplate the positives, especially in your eating habits, and make joyfulness and thankfulness your companions throughout 2018.

Pf, Pf2018, Pf 2018, New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers  

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October 31st is a fun time. Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, mingles tricks of fictitious goblins and ghosts with treats of candy. Derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals, the holiday is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve and remains a celebration in many parts of the world. In the United States, it is the second most popular holiday, after Christmas, for decorating, candy, and costume sales.

Puritan traditions in the early years of our nation restricted the holiday. During the 19th century, the migration of some two million Irish brought Halloween to the United States. Trick-or-treat became the main event of this holiday for children in our country and Canada. Children shuffle from house to house seeking goodies, especially candy. Both children and adults dress in costumes of favorite characters.

Commercialization of Halloween in the U. S. began around the turn of the 20th century. According to the National Confectioners Association, each year more than 75 percent of Americans plan to give candy to trick-or-treaters. And Americans’ favorite Halloween candy? Chocolate, of course, with candy corn in second place.

Halloween is the largest candy-eating event of the year. Other than gaining weight or developing tooth decay, are there dangers in eating too much candy? The American Chemical Society gave this some thought in 2016 and concluded that sugar from large amounts of candy consumed in one sitting might be lethal. The probability is unlikely since most would become sick before eating enough to harm them. Based on research and mathematical equations using rats, theoretically, 1,627 pieces of candy corn eaten in one sitting could be toxic to humans. One fun-size piece of candy has about 75 calories. Eating 262 pieces equates to about 20,000 calories. If it doesn’t kill you, your conscience may as you figure out how to work off those added pounds.

While dying from an overload of Halloween candy isn’t likely, use caution in making your choices. If you are over 40, consuming two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks may cause irregular heart rhythm. The sweetening compound, glycyrrhizin, in black licorice may lower potassium levels in the body resulting in high blood pressure and other heart-related problems. This candy can also interact with medications, herbal products, and dietary supplements.

As you observe this special holiday of sweet treats, keep in mind the outcomes of eating too many sweets. Teach children about moderation. The American Heart Association warns against allowing them to have large amounts of candy. Set a good example and use discretion in how much you eat. Make the holiday a treat but avoid the trick of too many calories.

 

 

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Heart health took center stage when Lyndon B. Johnson issued Proclamation 3566 in December,1963. He declared February as American Heart Month and Congress passed a joint resolution requesting presidents each year to follow suit. In that era, more than half of deaths in the United States resulted from heart-related conditions.

In the 2017 proclamation, President Donald Trump stated “The death rate from heart disease in the United States has fallen dramatically since the 1960s . . . [yet] heart disease remains a leading cause of death. . . . During American Heart Month, we remember those who have lost their lives to heart disease and resolve to improve its prevention, detection and treatment.”

 Globally, more than 17 million deaths occur annually from heart related conditions with projected increases in future years. What is more appropriate than to think about healthy hearts on Valentine’s Day? As a day of love, it’s befitting to encourage those we love to eat healthy and to express our love to family and friends by practicing a healthy-heart lifestyle.                                     

      Image result for free heart healthy clip art                                                             

 If you plan to treat those you love with any type of food this Valentine’s Day, make it healthy. Increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, avoid offers of high-sugar, high-salt foods, and provide meats low in fat, especially saturated fats.

As we commemorate a day for hearts, remember to protect yours. Helping yourself and others choose healthy-heart foods can reduce the number of people likely to meet untimely deaths due to cardiovascular disease. It’s the way to honor a national treasure―you and those you love. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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