Thursday, July 22, 2010

breakfast outside the box

This morning we had cabbage, red onion and pine nuts sauteed in coconut oil.  I had a lentil patty with mine, Steve had a chicken breast.

For many folks this kind of a breakfast seems unusual.  However it's a great, healthy way to start your day.  Good protein, good fat, veggies, it'll stick with you and it's very satisfying.  Most people are used to thinking of foods as belonging to a certain time of day but believe me when I tell you that your body does not classify foods as breakfast, lunch or dinner.  And starting your day with a bowl of boxed cereal or toast is actually one of the worst things you can do to yourself.

You've just come off a fast.  For most folks it's been at least 10 hours since your last meal.  While you sleep your body slows down it's processing, by about 10%.  If you go more than 12 hours without eating it slows down by 40%.  You need to boost your metabolism so that it can burn the calories that you are putting into it and make use of the nutrients you are providing.  Simple carbs and sugar may feel like they are giving you an energy boost but what they do is rev up the insulin rollercoaster.  This leaves you feeling tired at 3:00 PM looking for a quick fix snack.  It can also lead to that spoon hitting the bottom of the Ben & Jerry's container at 9:30 PM with you thinking 'what just happneed.'

I've had this conversation with several people this week so I'm thinking it needs to be shared.  If you do not provide a solid nutritional base for your body as you move through the day it will become metabolically unstable.  This means that your body chemicals won't function the way they're supposed to.  It also means that at some point they are going to start sending out 'SOS Feed Me' signals.  And folks, I'm here to tell you that your brain chemicals will win every time.  It's not that you have no willpower, it's that your body is a beautifully designed creation that is programmed to survive and those chemicals are one way to make sure it gets what it needs, food. Unfortunately if we're metabolically unstable your body is going to send out signals for fast energy, that means sugar and simple carbs.

The point is, it's important to start your day with a good nutritional foundation.  And to keep it up all day long.  The more you do this the better your body will feel and the less you will fight with those cravings. So step outside the box.  Have dinner for breakfast for a change.  You might discover that you like it.

Be well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

grains are good

Lately I've had several people mention to me that perhaps I need to change the name of my business, Grains&More.  Their thinking is that because so many people "can't eat grains anymore" I might want to consider a different moniker.

As I question them further it becomes very apparent that they are talking about those folks who cannot have wheat or who must avoid gluten due to celiac or other gluten-intolerant issues.  And I find myself saying the same thing to all of them.

Grains are an important part of our diet.  Just because you cannot eat those grains that have gluten in them does not mean you cannot have grains.  As a matter of fact, there are more grains that do not have gluten than there are grains that do.  The gluten containing grains are wheat, spelt, rye, and barley.  The non-glutinous grains are rice, amaranth, teff, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, sorghum, millet, and job's tears.  Oats fall into a special category.  They do not contain gluten in and of themselves, however they are so frequently grown near, stored with, transported with wheat that they can be contaminated.  Therefore many people who cannot consume gluten either look for certified gluten-free oats or avoid them all together.

Just as a reminder, gluten is actually comprised of glutenin and gliadin which are present in the endosperm (or starchy part) of certain grains.  They make up most of the protein in the grain.  In many cultures the gluten is carefully separated from the grain and used as an important protein component in the diet, sometimes being referred to as seitan.  Those grains that are considered gluten-free do not have gliadin in them.

If you cannot eat gluten that does not mean you cannot eat grains.  As I've said, they are an important part of the diet, providing fiber as well as beneficial oils from the germ which contain antioxidants and are rich in vitamin E and B.  

So in case you were wondering, I'm still Grains&More, I still believe in and promote consuming grains as a part of a healthy diet and I'm not changing my name.

photo courtesy of Fir0002 | Wikimedia Commons

Friday, July 16, 2010

pickle update

The post I wrote on lacto-fermented pickles seems to have generated a lot of interest.  I've gotten quite a few emails from folks about it.  I believe part of the interest is because many people are becoming more aware of the ingredients that are in their food.  They no longer wish to consume artificial colors, artificial chemical preservatives and other ingredients that they can't pronounce.

Two interesting remarks came up.  I had some people who were a little concerned about the idea of lacto-fermenting without the use of whey.  Several people commented that in the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallonshe uses whey.  I'm certainly not saying that you shouldn't, that is a very valid way to create a lacto-ferment.  What I am saying is that whey is not strictly necessary if the brine is at the right percentage. The brine will protect the food until the natural lacto-fermentation process takes over.   

One person told me that living in a hot climate she keeps her air conditioning on and can't get her house warm enough to get good fermentation  going.  In that case it is definitely a good idea to add whey as the pickles may not make a solid lacto-ferment otherwise.  Adding 2 T. of whey should provide a good amount to kick off the ferment.

Another person wrote that her grandmother taught her to put grape leaves in with the cucumber pickles because it helps make them crisp.  This sounds like it could be a good idea.  Grapes are also known for having a lot of natural bacteria so I'm sure the leaves would help the lacto-fermentation process along.

To make your own whey simply take a 32 ounce container of plain organic yogurt, put it into a lined colander and strain overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning you will have a creamy Greek-style yogurt in the top of the colander and the clear strained whey in the bowl underneath.  The whey will keep for a couple of months in the fridge.  I use the whey for soaking beans, grains, and lacto-fermented foods.

photo courtesy of Agne27 | Wikimedia Commons