Archive for June, 2011

U Turn on Salt – Get Your 5-10 a Day

June 12th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m continuing on the theme of finding ways to consume less salt that I started April 20 and continued April 26, May 10 and 30, 2011. Clearly there are many ways to work in better ways to eat while getting maximal enjoyment. How appropriate it is to focus on getting your 5-10 a day of fruits and vegetables as they become more abundant this time of year. Mother Nature’s bounty certainly abounds with choice.

Adopting this strategy does so much good it’s mind boggling – it helps if you’re watching your weight, it helps if you are diabetic or heading in that direction AND it’s simply good for you if you only want to eat better and are unsure of where to start. Bingo, this is it!!

Let’s get our head around what we mean by 5-10 a day. Check out My Plate or the Food Guide to focus on serving sizes. Aim for a minimum of 1 choice a day of dark green or orange (such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes or squash). Have them steamed, baked or stir-fried rather than deep fried. Take out your measuring cup to get your eyes attuned to amounts rather than guessing. Here are some handy examples:
1/2 cup (125mL) veggie or fruit generally
1 cup (250mL) of the fresh leafy stuff (lettuce, spinach, romaine)
1 medium corn, banana, apple, pear, orange
1/2 grapefruit, papaya, melon, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew
20 cherries or grapes
3 apricots

Now, I have heard that you might buy this stuff but the bella familia doesn’t eat ‘em. Let’s work in some behavioural strategies to get the fruit you buy where it belongs – down the gullet, where it was intended! Try washing some fruit and putting them in a bowl in high traffic place in your kitchen. You know the old adage, “out of sight out of mind”.

Also, try getting in the habit of having a fruit between meals as a mid-morning snack, then as a mid-afternoon snack – you know that “witches hour” before dinner. This helps take the edge off of your appetite. Get in the habit of ending your meals with fruit. It surely is a natural sweet that can’t be beat.

This is one of my secret diet strategies I have used for years. I find myself eating out quite a bit. Before I head out I have a little snack to take the edge off my appetite. In the old days my Grandma used to say, “don’t eat before dinner it’ll ruin your appetite”. Well, that’s exactly what I am aiming to do when I do this. If I end up at someone’s home or in a restaurant famished I’ll eat way too much. When I’m feeling in control with the edge off my appetite I find I make better choices.

Keep in mind that simply putting veggies on your plate doesn’t actually count until they’re eaten. Many people don’t like theirs plain steamed and neither do I. There are many tasty ways of serving these up that you’re family will enjoy so take out your recipe books and branch out a little.

Now for a word about fruit, veggies juices and smoothies. Surely the beverage industry has exploded with choice on this front. As a diet strategy I’d much prefer you eat your fruits and veggies rather than drink them. Chewing and swallowing and having your tummy feel satisfied is more common when you eat these rather than drinking them, especially when it’s warmer out and you’re drinking to quench your thirst. But if some of your family will only get on this “fruit/veg” bandwagon with these options, then I’ll bend a little. Watch the volumes and ensure they’re made of 100% juice and not a sugary substitute. As this can be like soda pop with an altruistic fruity halo. Nay nay, I say….

Eating 5-10 a day of fruits and veggies is one stealth diet strategy because they help fill you up and are inherently lower in calories that the other food groups, generally. By eating more of these, you’ll naturally eat less of the other foods, some of which may have more sodium than is beneficial for you. Give this a try and let me know how it goes.

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Higher Ground

June 10th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I’m heading to Kelowna BC in the near future. It is a place where I take the time to enjoy that nature explosion. It often amazes me when you get immersed in nature how you can make sense of it all. Take climbing a mountain, for instance. I love Mount Knox. The higher you climb the smaller everything becomes below – the buildings, the houses, the trees, the people the cars, everything. It got me thinking, hmmmmm how this is a metaphor of life.

In our everyday lives it’s easy for things to get blown out of proportion, from egos to attitudes to titles to our need and want for houses, cars and other stuff. But when you walk in the wake of Mother Nature, like walking up a mountain, those things become so small. And rightfully so.

There is more wisdom in the line “stop and smell the roses” that we might have thought. Doing this helps us shake things up and find perspective, so that what has is currently out of sorts comes clearly into line. Making it right.

As people are finding the time for R & R get up close and personal with Mother Nature. If some things are currently wrong in your mind, she can help make it right. Even though smelling the roses makes me sneeze, doing this helps me realign, if needed. Enjoy!!

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Funny on the Annual Physical

June 8th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Ahhh yes, it’s that time again, preparing for my annual physical. I wrote about last year’s on June 25, 2010. What an adventure!! Now that I’ve turned 50 years old it’s like entering a new level on the Zelda game. It’s a whole new thing when you move up a level into your 50′s – good grief.

I get a reprieve on the mammogram this year – oh joy. Now if only the healthcare budget will pay for the much needed reinforcement “GI-Jane” bra after years of getting your bubbies squeezed in 2 directions, year after year after year. Many think the mid-life sag is due to gravity, but I beg to differ. It’s also caused by the beloved mammogram. From cookie-gram to mammogram, aging can be a bitch!!

This year I have the pleasure of having my first colonoscopy. Ahhh yes, a metaphor for certain aspects of life. There are times when circumstances meander to some dark, smelly places and this is no different. Somehow this procedure seems so unnatural, don’t you think? You’d get a spanking if you shove a crayon up your nose as a kid, but there you go, some MD like my plumber is snaking a device with a camera on it up my yoo-hoo to see what might be lurking. Well doctor, I’m gonna tell you what you’re gonna find to save you the trouble and it rhymes with “chit”. And no, none of those pics the MD will take will find their way to this blog :-)

Then I think about Doctor Oz who also turned 50 this year and went for his colonoscopy – the goodie goodie. Hmmm I’m sure his “s-h-_-t” doesn’t even smell…. the lucky gastroenterologist!! And Katie Kuric, who when she went for hers at age 50 created “the Kuric effect” with a wave of newswatcher-sheep who followed in her footsteps for their procedures. Well, some people can’t fit another rod up their rear, can they??!!

All kidding aside, I have a love-hate relationship with my annual physical – I hate going and love when it’s all over. Yes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as “they” say….whoever that is??

Truly, if you have a health care system that supports you getting your check ups, by golly get yee to the doctor and use it. Yes, aging might be a bitch, but it sure beats the alternative. “Now dear, just put this gown on and hop up on the <cold, GD> table, I’ll be right back.”……

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Posted in Francy Rants, Funnies By a Foodie, Miss Behavin', Policy for the People | No Comments »

Food Revolution Tomato & Bocconcini Appetizer

June 6th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

I served this fab meatless dish some time ago for company. It is a perfect twist on my famous Tomato Salad posted June 21, 2010. It provides maximal enjoyment with minimal work. My kind of dinner accompaniment, that’s for sure!!

ripe vine tomatoes (room temperature)
bocconcini cheese (medium sized)
olive oil
fresh washed, chopped basil
crushed garlic cloves
salt, pepper to taste

A few hours before serving prepare the following: cut the bocconcini cheese widthwise about a quarter of an inch thick and add to a mixing bowl. Pour a generous amount of olive oil over the cheese pieces. Add fresh chopped basil a few cloves of crushed garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate.

About half an hour before meal time prepare the tomatoes by cutting them into a third inch wide slices and arrange them on a serving platter that has lifted sides to hold the olive oil mixture. Arrange the marinated bocconcini slices on top of the tomato slices. Using a spoon combine the olive oil mixture then add some to the top of each tomato. Garnish your dish with basil leaves and allow to remain in room temperature until serving.

I included a basket of cut up olive bread (focaccio will do swimmingly too) to serve as my guests’ personal Zamboni olive oil picker upper on the table. There wasn’t much talking at the table which is a good sign that people were enjoying the food. I bought red, yellow and orange tomatoes. If they had purple ones I would have added that into the mix as well. Not only was it visually pleasing but tasted fab as well.

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Climb the Pyramid to Reach My Plate

June 5th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I love it when a country rallies around food and nutrition issues merging scientific, behavioural and creative juices to launch a new campaign. This time, it’s the launch of My Plate in the US. How fitting to have the US’s number 1 mom and First Lady, Michelle Obama to introduce the concept to help the 300 million population lean into eating better.

The US moved from the Food Pyramid to My Plate. In Canada we have a Food Guide Rainbow. All different looks, but all seeped in the same scientific principles and wisdom. It drives me crazy that this new campaign is barely out a day and the nay-sayers are dissecting it and eating it up for lunch, what gives?? I’m pretty sure they could not create anything better…..

I recently did a presentation on consumer eating summarizing grim findings that the participants admitted to skipped meals, rushed meals, had meals without veggies and fruit, had excessive soft drinks and excessive caffeine, lack of portion control and ate with distractions. How’s that for some sobering reality? Many had a goal to want to eat better and be healthier, but current practice did not even come close to this distant notion. All could benefit from moving toward My Plate but would need to be an active participant.

Let’s break My Plate down, shall we: Michelle said “As long as [our plates are] half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden.” “That’s how easy it is.” The concept involves portion control, so no platters, but use a smaller plate. It includes lower fat dairy products and to drink water over sugary drinks. And voila. No mention of caffeine ice-cap anything, no grab and go, no 32 ounce big gulp drinks, no feed bags of snacks not foot long subs or mile high beef and bacon burgers, no maple syrup and bacon happy appys…..

The population health problems in North America and around the world of obesity, diabetes certainly didn’t happen overnight. Nor will it take a brief moment in time to solve them. The people of these nations are diverse in culture, age and beliefs so developing a 1-size-fits-all campaign can be a bit tricky if not totally impossible. People have to remember any system such as this whether it’s a plate or a pyramid or a rainbow that it’s a guide not a dogma.

We are also so spoiled with many quick fixes we can barely wait 10 seconds for anything without our blood pressure rising. Not only are we an impatient group but we also want magic. “Play Misty for me baby!” My Plate doesn’t offer magic, a silver bullet or empty promises. They can launch My Plate or My Takeout Container at the drive through, the principles remain the same. We the people have to take the first step to eat better, period. Yes a harsh reality and inconvenient truth, but a necessary principle nonetheless.

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May the Fork Be With You

June 2nd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Is there ever a day that goes by that you don’t hear or read about food and nutrition? I studied nutrition and sometimes feel discombobulated by the mixed messages and mumbo jumbo in the breezeway. I feel deeply for consumers who try to make sense of all of the nonsense on the topic.

I also get discouraged with the miriad statistics that don’t seem to be getting any better. Food and eating are supposed to be a natural and wonderful thing. Our food world has turned into guilt-ridden zones with the purist “good food” versus the “bad food” and the battleground has turned very ugly. Moreover, many women learn to hate their bodies from a young age because society dictates that the gaunt “eating disorder” look is what’s acceptable. What gives??

I can’t stand being asked “what should I eat”? As if it’s a pop quiz and you’ll lose if you don’t answer right. There are over a thousand ways to do the same thing right. Many different dietary regimens originating from different corners of the world have stood the test of time, not only for generations, but centuries. Clearly there isn’t one way to do the same thing right. There are many ways.

Age old diet regimens are seeped in cultural beliefs, religious practices and deep rooted social mores. To tell someone in Nepaul to eat what I do would be like dissecting a key organ from your soul – it shouldn’t be done. It all lies in doing what’s right in your life, cultural, social and religious context. One diet doesn’t rule them all, but all people can find serendipity by finding what’s right for them. Your solution might be closer to home than you think. Perhaps start digging for your roots….

When it’s all said and done deep seated pleasure and joy should be garnered from food and eating. It truly is one of life’s simple pleasures. So lose the guilt, lose the shame, lose the judgement, lose the confusion about food and eating and find the joy. And yes, “may the fork be with you”!!

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Foodie Fundamentals, Francy Rants, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »