Over the years my husband has grumbled about eating healthy indicating he'd rather die than give up red meat and other favorites. After hearing he would need to rethink his food consumption he had stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and is doing what needs to be done. Granted it's only day three, but if the last three days are an indication, you can color me happy!
When I offered breakfast of his choice yesterday, he opted for oatmeal. We had oatmeal the day before so I suggested he just have some cold cereal as lunch time wasn't far off. He agreed. When I returned to fix my bowl of one cup of Kashi with rice milk I glanced his way. He had three cups of Honey Bunches of Oats with whole milk. Now, let me explain ... he had recently purchased organic whole milk, pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized (remember the milk of the old days? Yum!!) and needed to finish it up before it spoiled. Note: I suggested to Tom that he buy the 2% organic milk in the future - that way he'd still have the taste he wants without the fat - he agreed.) Now, Tom's no sloucher in the size department sporting a six foot frame with a BMI within the normal range, but I suggested - in the future - he reduce the amount of cereal/milk and opt for a piece of toast with jam (and try to skip the butter and/or add some sliced fruit to his one cup serving size of cereal. He rolled his eyes. Tom doesn't like change and doesn't like to make a fuss for himself. I left it at that. He'll decide what he wants to do.
Later in the day I decided to make a bread Tom can pop in the toaster that'll take the edge off his hunger without ruining lunch. You see, Tom works an odd shift so regular meals don't always jive with his schedule. I altered a favorite recipe to include heart healthier options and he said it liked it! That's a start. He will probably 'need' to add some butter, but that'll be OK. He's aware that if what he eats had a pulse it has saturated fat - just knowing that helps him make better choices.
Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and add to egg and oil mixture, mixing well. Fold in zucchini, nuts, and dried fruits.
Spoon into loaf pans and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool ten minutes, then remove from pans and continue cooling on rack.
This is a dense bread packed with nutrients. I like it plain but I put a very small amount of butter on Tom's. I kept one loaf out and sliced the other loaf, laid the slices on a cookie sheet and froze them. Once frozen, I put the slices into a bag. That way, we can take out a slice at a time to enjoy.
Now, onto lunch ...
Some mornings it sure would be easy to pour myself a bowl of cereal and run or skip breakfast all together keeping a stressful day at bay with a couple cups of strong coffee laced with a non-dairy creamer knowing full well I was stepping into the world on the wrong foot. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Well, yes it is ... but it also depends on what breakfast is! Downing a bowl of dry cereal and a cup of coffee is better than nothing, but not much. With a little planning you can be set for the whole week. I find it most helpful to have a menu posted on the refrigerator outlining what the plans are for the week. Now, I don’t always do it, but the weeks I don’t is obvious. I really don’t want to think much about breakfast when I first get up ... but setting my palate when I go to bed makes me enjoy my sleep time more and knowing what’s for breakfast the next day sets the pace. So, is cereal a bad thing? Of course not ... but the choices are virtually endless and it’s what you reach for that does make a difference.Most cereal boxes these days sport some new words ... Whole grain! Lower sugar! More fiber! So can you believe what you see and/or read? Not always ... it’s up to you to read the ingredients and nutritional analysis ... lower sugar may mean a drop from 13 grams of sugar to 11 grams? A good deal? Not in my opinion. Watch the fiber. Personally if the fiber isn’t at least 10 mg, I pass.
Remember, there are two types of fiber ... soluable and insoluable. What’s the difference? My Food Diary says dietary fiber, the edible portions of plant cell walls are resistant to digestion, is an extremely beneficial component of our diets. Not only does it help ward off many diseases, it has been shown to aid in weight loss by reducing food intake at meals. This is because fiber-rich foods take longer to digest and thus result in an increased feeling of fullness and satiety. In addition, the more gradual absorption slows the entrance of glucose into the blood stream, thereby preventing large blood glucose and insulin spikes.
The recommended fiber intake is 20 - 35 grams per day for adults, or 10 - 13 grams for every 1,000 calories in the diet. This recommended amount should come from a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, since each type provides different benefits. While it's not necessary to track, a 3:1 ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber is typical. Although neither type is absorbed by the body, they have different properties when mixed with water, hence the designation between the two. However, due to overlap in function between the two types and disparities in measurements of each depending on the method used, the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that these terms "gradually be eliminated and replaced by specific beneficial physiological effects of a fiber". Thus you may hear less about "soluble vs. insoluble fiber" in the future.
Soluble fiber is "soluble" in water. When mixed with water it forms a gel-like substance and swells. Soluble fiber has many benefits, including moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol. The scientific names for soluble fibers include pectins, gums, mucilages, and some hemicelluloses. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats and oatmeal, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), barley, fruits and vegetables (especially oranges, apples and carrots).
Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through our digestive system in close to its original form. Insoluble fiber offers many benefits to intestinal health, including a reduction in the risk and occurrence of colorectal cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation. Most of insoluble fibers come from the bran layers of cereal grains.
Since dietary fiber is found only in plant products (i.e., nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables), these are essential to a healthy diet. The average American significantly falls short of the recommended amount of fiber, consuming on average only 12 - 17 grams per day. Ways to increase dietary fiber in your diet are:
Now that you understand the two types of fiber, let’s move on to sugars and sweeteners. Cereals are notorious for adding lots of sugar to make whole grains more palatable. Today’s children have an insatiable sweet tooth and we, as parents and grandparents, are not helping by hiding the wonderful flavors of whole grains and healthy food by excessively sweetening them. Allowing children (and ourselves) to learn to enjoy the natural flavor of foods is critical to eating healthier. I love my morning oatmeal with a few dried cranberries, raisins, and/or other dried fruits or unsweetened applesauce and a little cinnamon. No sugar or other sweetener and just a splash of unsweetened soymilk. I had no idea how wonderful plain cooked oatmeal could taste, but I had to retrain myself ... I was a sucker for the cute little packets of instant oatmeal with no redeeming qualities at all! Once I realized that, I now opt for the healthier whole, long-cooking organic oats, preferably steel-cut. Need a recipe?
Crock-Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal
The only variation I used was substituting soymilk for the whole milk ... very yummy!!
Not into steel-cut oats? Try The Perfect Oatmeal which uses the type of oatmeal of which most people are familiar.
Need some breakfast ideas beyond the usual offerings? How about this? Want bacon, fried eggs, white toast with jelly? Try Canadian bacon, soft cooked, poached, or scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast with low sugar jam.
Want pancakes (made from a mix) with butter and syrup with a side of sausage? Try a whole wheat pancake mix or make your own using ½ whole wheat flour, a vegan sausage, and real maple syrup - skip the butter.
Going for a toaster strudel or Poptart type breakfast? A simple piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and/or low sugar jam is a better choice - and grab a piece of fruit.
Doughnuts? I have nothing for you ... just say no.
There are ...
Have a suggestion? Thought? Opinion? Leave a comment! Thanks.
Recently we spent the weekend on the road and we all know how difficult it is to maintain healthy eating away from home. Our trip was unplanned so I didn't have much opportunity short of grabbing some dried fruit and nuts and water. I knew I was going to face some challenges.
I'm sure you've read about not so good fast food recently and McDonald's oatmeal didn't make the cut … as an avid oatmeal eater, I rather expected McDonald's oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar to be pretty high in sugar and the fiber isn't really all that great after processing either … tossing on a couple “fresh” pieces of apple with the skin intact (we won't even talk about the chemicals that may be on the skin of the apple) and some raisins and nuts and what do you have? Well, comparatively, it beats some alternatives available on the road, though I was troubled by a couple of items on the nutritional analysis … if you request the oatmeal without brown sugar some interesting numbers changed:
Here, let's compare McDonald's Sausage McMuffin with McDonald's Oatmeal:
I know I've been picking on McDonald's on this post and I'm sure other fast food restaurants have similar comparative offerings, I had just seen so much hype about McDonald's new oatmeal that I had to check it out.
Another recent hype is the “new” sugar … fructose and high fructose corn syrup … which is causing quite a stir for nutritional nuts, too … I found this information on Summit Total Health's website:
“ … Commenting on the potential mechanism, Welsh and her co-workers noted that, while the actual mechanism is “not completely understood”, studies have indicated a role for fructose – “a monosaccharide found in large quantities in nearly all added sugars”. The sugar has been reported to increase fat production in the liver and the production of both triglycerides and very low density lipoproteins ...”
The new ad for the sugar industry says fructose and high fructose corn sugar is still just a sugar, plain and simple. Watch this from MSNBC News.
The fact that Americans are getting bigger and bigger and bigger isn't so much what is offered it is what is NOT being offered by schools, parents, peers … when my children and now grandchildren ask for something to drink, they get water! If I do give them soda, they split one sugar-free 12 ounce can three ways. Many children today down a full sugar soda THREE times a day!! Add to that juice and juice drinks and all their calories …a better option next time would be to offer water and a piece of fruit. Juice offers nothing but sugar (albeit natural), but the fruit itself lends itself to a powerful nutritional analysis! What do you drink at mealtimes? Soda? Sweet tea? C'mon … have a big glass of water Or maybe a glass of wine? Your call. Your choice.
So here we are again, friends, bottom line hasn't changed … think smart, buy smart, eat smart and your heart will be happy. You can still eat fast food but look for better options ... and go home to eat as often as possible ... your heart and your pocketbook will thank you.
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The more research I do on ways to lower cholesterol, the more hidden ways that contribute to the challenge arise! In a recent post, I mentioned participating in a Daily Challenge that offered small ways to improve your life. Today’s challenge was understanding and finding the -ose that is in the food your eating ... you know ... glucose, saccharose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, fructose (high fructose corn syrup), and xylose ... like take a look in your own cupboards and pantries and see what kinds of sugars you’re really eating. After taking the challenge and chatting with a few folks on their take about the challenge, I Googled “sugar and high cholesterol” just to see if sugar affected high cholesterol, too, and imagine my surprise when sugar DOES affect cholesterol and triglycerides!
So, here I am ... wondering why my MD didn’t tell me to watch my sugar as well??? We all know the answer to that, don’t we so I won’t expand on it. Perhaps it’s the same reason he didn’t tell me much besides “Let’s get you on a statin, dear.” But I digress.
Sugar of all types is hidden in many, many prepackaged or prepared foods and unless you make everything from scratch, you will find these unwanted sugars. Therefore, if you are an “open the box” type of cook, you can count on it. I have a policy (though there are some exceptions) that I don’t eat anything packaged that has more than six ingredients and I must be able to pronounce them all without difficulty - a challenge in itself. I cook from scratch, most of the time, but on the rare occasion I opt for a convenience food, it is with great care. An example would be our favorite pancake mix which I use because I like it better than most of the homemade ones I have tried ... and are ... well ... convenient ... so the ingredients are:
Now to be fair, my old pancake mix ... well ... you’ll see why I changed brands. It’s list of ingredients are:
So, that’s just one example - there are many, many more. What's your choice? Are you worth it?
I am ...
... a former blogger for a health site, which means eating healthy aka heart smart
which has become a passion for me. I will start at the beginning when I first
discovered I had high cholesterol.