Grow Your Diet: Week 3

What did you have for breakfast this morning? A bowl of Reese's Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Two of my faves. And don't forget Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops! Or maybe you had a granola bar, or a piece of fruit. Maybe the only thing you had was a cup of coffee. Breakfast, as we have been told is an important meal. It is breaking the fast from the night's sleep and getting us started for the day. When my hubby and I are home and don't have to rush to work in the morning we like to cook Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. Oats are a healthy choice to begin a busy day.

oatmeal

When I eat oatmeal I add brown sugar, skim milk, walnuts and if I have them fresh blueberries. Oatmeal has a mild flavor, so adding things like cinnamon, apples and various nuts can make your breakfast a meal you look forward to. 

Oatmeal contains a substance called beta glucan, a soluble fiber. This fiber is what helps to lower our "bad" or LDL cholesterol levels. See WebMD's short article here. A few years ago I was diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol. My doctor suggested oatmeal along with diet, exercise and fish oil supplements to help bring it down. My husband and I started eating oatmeal about two to three times a week when we were able to fit it in. Six months later when I had my cholesterol rechecked it had gone from a 213 overall to a 204 overall and my HDL or "good" cholesterol had gone up and the "bad" or LDL had gone down. I'm sure oatmeal had something to do with the change along with the exercise and fish oil. If you have high cholesterol, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any sort of diet or exercise changes.

Oatmeal is also a versatile add in for many recipes. Add it to muffins for an extra heart healthy boost. Put some in with your meatloaf instead of bread or breadcrumbs. And of course oatmeal is absolutely delicious in cookies. Again, we can't just make cookies and eat them and think that we are eating healthy....wish we could! But we can make small adjustments in the things that we cook to make them healthier.

I hope you will think about adding oats to your diet. You will enjoy the change and your heart will love you for it. 

 

Grow Your Diet: Week 2

I'm feeling particularly nutty right now, so I thought it might be good to discuss adding nuts to our diet. Nuts are a great source of protein as well as being full of all sorts of heart healthy substances like Omega 3's, vitamin E and fiber. Mayo clinic put out a short sweet article that gives a good overview of different nuts along with their calorie and fat contents (amounts found in 1 ounce of nuts). Note they do say in the article you can diminish the amount of good you are doing for your heart if the nuts are covered in sugar, chocolate or sprinkled on a mound of ice cream, hot fudge and whipped topping. That last was my own addition. 

peanuts

Technically, peanuts are not a nut, but a legume, but I love peanuts. Peanuts, while not as popular as a heart healthy choice do have plenty of disease fighting benefits of their own and even contain the same age fighting molecule found in grapes and red wine, resveratrol. Here's another good article about the peanut. Peanuts are easy to get, are inexpensive and great to have at parties or when kids are around. They are a much better choice than chips or pretzels as they actually are a source of good nutrients. 

walnuts

Another wonderful nut is the walnut. Walnuts are a source of Omega 3's. Omega 3 helps your heart function at a healthier level. In addition walnuts add their nutty flavor to everything from oatmeal and salads, to desserts (but not too much). I actually like walnuts plain. Just pull a few out of the bag and start munching. The walnut is so popular it even has it's own website, California Walnuts.

pistachios

Pistachios are another good choice for just eating. While you can use them in desserts or muffins, my family loves pistachios right out of the shell. If we are going on a trip, we often take a bag of pistachios to munch on in the car. We get the ones still in the shell as they are a little bit cheaper than the ones that are already shelled. Again, the nutritional benefits are similar to peanuts and walnuts. Check out the American Pistachio Growers site for more info on health benefits and ways to use this yummy little nuts.

There are many other nuts with similar nutritional assets. Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and more. Nuts are a nutrient rich food, especially for children who are picky eaters. Just be sure they aren't allergic. Nuts are also portable. They are a good snack for hikers, bike riders and other sports participants as they don't need refrigeration and don't take up much room. For women who are calorie conscious, nuts are still a good snack or garnish choice for salads or cereal, just be careful to measure the amount of nuts you are using as the calories can add up fast.

Remember, we are trying to grow our diets, so adding flax seed from my article last week and nuts are two healthy ways to make our diets more nutritionally beneficial. This week figure out which nut you like the best and let me know in the comments section below. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Grow Your Diet: Week 1

The title of this post may be confusing. Let me clarify, I am not talking about eating more food. I struggle with my diet and my weight every day, so I would be the last person to encourage eating more! What I would like to focus on the next few weeks as we talk about growth blog wide, is the idea of expanding your palette and finding food that will grow your health.

Dieting and diet are a daily struggle for so many of us. We want to eat better, look better and feel better, but all too often we start a diet just to fall off the wagon again. So how do we make a change for the better? How do we grow in the area of our health?

If you have ever seen the movie, What About Bob? Richard Dreyfuss plays a successful psychotherapist, at least he appears to be, until he meets Bill Murray's character, Bob. In the movie, Dreyfuss' character has written a best selling book called "Baby Steps." The book, though fictional, gives us a template from which to put together our own plan for making changes in our diets and lives. The movie is a hoot, a must see and leaves you with a satisfied feeling at the end. I came away from it with the term, "Baby Steps." Change can happen if we just approach it with baby steps.

For today's first baby step in growing our diet I am going to focus on flaxseed.  This tiny seed is said to be an excellent food having health benefits that affect cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Sounds good to me! I take flaxseed oil supplements, in addition to using the ground seeds in cereal. The verdict is still out on whether oils or ground are better for you, but my feeling is some is better than none. Adding supplements to your routine is easy for some, but not for others. If you have a whole foods approach to life then you will want to purchase the seeds and grind them yourself. The ground seeds can be added to oatmeal, breads, meat mixtures such as meatloaf or smoothies. You can also buy flax already ground, at a little higher price point per ounce.

flaxseed

This is the brand I buy and seems to be the most common. There is brown flaxseed and gold flaxseed.

grinder

This is a coffee bean grinder and it works great for flaxseed. I just throw about 1/4 cup of the seeds in, put the top on and then push the button. Voila! Ground flax. The ground flax can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but typically will last longer left whole in the fridge, so only grind what you are going to use for the next day or two. See this article on flaxseed expiration.  Flax does have it's own nutty flavor and while it is not offensive it may require getting used to.

Flaxseed and Grinder

I hope you found that helpful. Let me know in the comments section below, if you use flax and how you use it. I would love to hear other people's ideas.