Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just What the Doctor Ordered!

Chef Instructor Bill Briwa of the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in Napa Valley loves to share the secrets of adding flavor to recipes with a world of spices.

Imagine a day when your doctor hands you a recipe instead of a prescription and you’ll share the vision of physicians, dietitians and other health professionals gathered recently in the kitchens of The Culinary Institute of America’s campus in Napa Valley.

The “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives” conference presented by researchers from Harvard Medical School brings medicine and menus together to illustrate the benefits of eating a healthy diet. “We need to practice what we preach” declared Dr. David Eisenberg, Director for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at the Harvard Medical School, “What doctors eat predicts their willingness and ability to advise patients about what they eat.” Eisenberg, who created the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference, led a recipe demonstration on Asian stir fry techniques. An M.D. handy with a cleaver and a wok, Eisenberg was the first US medical exchange student to the People’s Republic of China in 1979, “That’s when I learned the significance of a teaching kitchen. If we’re going to get people to eat better we have to realize that taste trumps nutrition science every day.”

While there were plenty of grim diet related health statistics to review including maps revealing states with the highest obesity rates, the focus was on cooking up solutions. Dr. Robert Israel, an internal medicine physician with Providence Hospital in Mobile, Alabama leapt at the opportunity to exchange his doctor’s coat for a chef’s hat in a workshop on cooking whole grain side dishes, “This is wonderful. It’s what we should have been doing twenty years ago.” The CIA-Harvard conference was packed with nutrition knowledge and real life recipe advice. Here’s an overview of healthy highlights.
Robert Israel, MD of Mobile, Alabama joins Paige Martin, RD,
a dietitian from Atlanta for a CIA cooking class on Whole Grain dishes.

Recipes for Wellness

1. Eat lots of vegetables- Advice to eat more plant based foods was abundant. Harvard School of Public Health’s Dr. Walter Willett, a course co-director, emphasized “Populations that eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day live longer lives and have less heart disease, stroke and cancer.” Cooking up solutions: Cookbook author, Chef John Ash says, “Instead of steaming, try roasting vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts- the high heat brings out naturally sweet flavors.”

2. Say yes to good fats- Not all fat is created equal. Trans fat is the most harmful. Avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils The preferred forms of fat intake include: olive
oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fish oil. Omegas 3’s in seafood are beneficial. Eat seafood at least twice a week. Cooking up solutions: “Give bottled salad dressings the boot” says cookbook author Joyce Goldstein, “Save money and have fun making your own salad dressings with olive oils and vinegars. Add a splash of fresh orange or lemon juice.”

3. Upgrade your carbs – To help control swings in blood sugar and support a healthy heart and digestive system, minimize refined sugar and white flour products; instead eat whole grain breads, oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries and other whole grains and cereals. Eat Fewer Refined Carbohydrates: white bread, white flour, sugary cereals, pasta, jellies, sugar candy and soft drinks. Cooking up solutions: CIA chef instructor Tucker Bunch shares these tips, “Most all grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, wheat berries and faro, can be cooked ahead and then combined with seasonings such as sautéed garlic, fresh basil, olives, lemon juice and olive oil to make a delicious side dishes.”

4. Eat Mindfully - Grab and go eating might save time but, it’s not getting a doctor’s or dietitian’s approval. Advice to slow down to appreciate and savor flavors, aromas, colors and textures of foods is becoming just as important as nutrient recommendations. Eisenberg says mindless munching whether in front of the television or in the car must be addressed, “Mindfulness and intention affect all behaviors including what and how much we eat.” Cooking up a solution: Savor and really think about the pleasure of enjoying a square of dark chocolate or dollop of whipped cream on top of a bowl of fresh berries.

Mediterranean Grain Medley
Farro or Soft Wheat Berries, fully cooked 3 cups
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Quinoa, fully cooked 2 cups
Extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup
Fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup
Crimini mushrooms, quartered 2 cups
Shallots, diced 2 Tsp
Garlic, chopped 1 tsp
Organo, chopped 1tsp
Chick peas 1 cup
Parsley, chopped 1 tsp
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 cup
Mint or basil, minced 1/4 cup
Kalamata olives, cut julienne 2 Tbsp
Hot red pepper flakes 1 tsp
Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the mushrooms. Toss so the mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the shallots, garlic, oregano and cook until aromatic. Season with S and P.
Add the chick peas, herbs, tomatoes and olives to the pan, tossing to mix well.
Adjust seasoning, adding salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon juice to taste.
Fold in the cooked grains to heat through.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Flip Out about Eating Out, Flip Your Plate!

The Plate Flip: Make vegetables the Star. Small portions of meat with mostly vegetables on the plate with one glass of wine = a meal that pleases both taste and health.
It’s easy to understand why nutrition advice today includes cautionary tales of restaurant menu items that deliver more than a day’s calorie limit with overblown portion sizes and whopping amounts of sugar, salt and fat. But, registered dietitian Connie Guttersen doesn’t think that means declaring a ban on dining out, “Eating is out is part of the daily American lifestyle. Strategies for success are essential to help diners who need to lose or maintain weight loss and feel good about eating in restaurants.” She says access to the facts certainly helps diners decide what to order. For instance, nutrition information on menu items at P.F. Chang’s reveals wide swings in calorie costs. Choose the Orange Peel Beef and you’re looking at 1400 calories on the plate versus the Cantonese Shrimp with only 350 calories a serving.

Guttersen knows a lot about the good, the bad and shockingly unhealthy choices offered in restaurants today. As a nutrition instructor at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley she’s on the front lines of gathering the food facts on menu items and sharing them with the next generation of chefs in training and adding to the skill sets of experienced chefs. Nutrition coursework is an important focus in culinary schools today as chefs gain the food knowledge and cooking techniques needed to prepare healthier menus that are just as appealing and sell just as well as restaurants’ more decadent choices. Guttersen, who spoke at the Healthy Kitchens/Healthy Lives conference held recently, says there are plenty of examples that illustrate good nutrition is making its way into food service including trends to offer small plates, seasonal produce, and flavors added to recipes with spices, herbs, fruit salsas and vinegars instead of butter, cream and cheese. So, what’s her best advice for diners to navigate a menu in search of breakfast, lunch or dinner that will support a healthy lifestyle? “Try not to micromanage by fretting about the exact calorie count of a dish. Instead, be mindful and visualize a healthy plate with at least 75% plant based foods. Eating mostly vegetables, fruit and grains should become second nature. It’s what we call the ‘plate flip’. Meat shouldn’t be the star of the plate.”
5 Strategies to Success in Healthful Dining Out

Watch the Three B’s
- Before you even order your entrée you can easily consume more than 600 calories with Bread, Butter and Beverage. Two pieces of bread (400 calories), 1 teaspoon or pat of butter (100 calories) and a soft drink or alcoholic beverage (200 calories).

Look for Healthy Preparations- Instead of deep fried or bathed in butter or cheese sauce look for menu descriptions that indicate leaner cooking techniques such as: Plank Roasted, Oven Roasted, Brick Roasted, Grilled, Seared, Stir Fry, En Papillote, and Poached in wine or broth.

Feast on Vegetables- Choose lots of different colors and varieties as the star of the plate, prioritize seasonal, local and organic. Guttersen says, “Build smarter salads with dark greens, added nuts and seeds and small amounts of flavorful cheeses.” Salad dressings can add flavor with healthy oils such as olive or canola.

Go For Whole Grains- Discover a world of healthy grains including quinoa, wild rice, faro, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, amaranth, wheat berries and oats.

Flip Your Plate- Protein portion whether beef, chicken, fish or tofu only needs to be four ounces. Include plant sources for protein: nuts, seeds, soy ( tofu), and beans. Consider the Pastry Flip for dessert emphasizing fruit and small amount of pastry or granola topping.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This is the Best News Yet!

Light Drinking Might Help Keep Women Slim
HealthDay News
Updated: 12:25 p.m. Monday, March 8, 2010
Posted: 12:11 p.m. Monday, March 8, 2010
Count staying slim as one of the apparent benefits of light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, at least for women.
New research found that women who drank the equivalent of one to two drinks a day were least likely to gain weight -- 30 percent less likely, in fact, than teetotalers.
"Our study results showed that middle-age and older women who have normal body weight initially and consume light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol could maintain their drinking habits without gaining more weight, compared with similar women who did not drink any alcohol," said study author Dr. Lu Wang, an epidemiologist with the division of preventive medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.
The findings are published in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Previous evidence on the health benefits of alcohol have been mixed. Some research has found that men and, to a lesser extent, women who drink moderately over the long-term have a lower risk for heart disease.
But another study found that even moderate drinking might raise the risk for breast, liver and other cancers in women.
Wang and her colleagues followed 19,220 women, 39 years or older, for an average of 13 years. All participants started the study with a normal body-mass index.
Although, on average, the women all tended to gain weight as time progressed, abstainers gained the most. The amount of weight gained decreased as alcohol consumption went up, the study found.
The researchers said they were unable to draw conclusions about heavy drinkers because there were so few in the study and because these women also tended to smoke, indicating they had very different lifestyles from the other participants.
There could be any number of reasons for the findings, including different ways that women metabolize alcohol, compared with men.
Also, the researchers pointed out, women tend to substitute alcohol for other foods, whereas men tend to simply add alcohol to everything else they're ingesting.
"The impact of alcohol consumption on body weight needs to be considered in the context of energy balance," Wang explained. "Among women, those who regularly consume light-to-moderate alcohol usually have a lower energy intake from non-alcohol sources. On the other hand, alcohol intake tends to induce increased energy expenditure beyond energy contents of the consumed alcohol in women. Taken together, regular alcohol consumption in light-to-moderate amount may lead to a net energy loss among women."
Marianne Grant, a registered dietitian and health educator at the Texas A&M Health Science Center's Coastal Bend Health Education Center in Corpus Christi, said that "it's possible that women who are of healthy weight are not as efficient in metabolizing alcohol."
"But, as always, the message is to enjoy alcohol in moderation," she warned. "Don't go with this as a weight-loss method. The keystones of healthy nutrition still hold."
More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on maintaining a healthy weight.
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