Friday, 24 February 2012
Vitamins--Are you getting Yours?
Many of you know that I have co-authored a couple of books on healthy eating and weight loss. In both “The GO Diet: The Goldberg-O’Mara Diet Plan” and in “The Four Corners Diet,” my co-authors and I have tried to emphasize two important concepts in human nutrition: (1) high intake of carbs is linked to hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome, and weight gain and (2) any human diet should provide complete nutrient needs from natural sources.
The “Pharmafoods” part of the story is critical to healthy eating. I believe our human population suffers from nutrient deficiencies that may be contributing to our overall health.
So, today’s BLOG POST concerns the vitamin subset of “Pharmafoods.”
I think my inspiration came at the check out lane at a major food store yesterday. I had to pick up a few last minute items for a dinner party tomorrow. Specifically, I had to buy kale for a side dish I was making. But I also did some other stock-up purchases and went to the check out lane. It turns out that the register computers had gone down and the lanes were all backed up. That gave me a few extra minutes to check my emails and then, to check out other peoples’ carts.
The first thing I noticed was the amount of processed food items that people were purchasing. I’m not talking about frozen vegetables but processed things like soda, frozen pizzas, frozen meals, baked goods, cereals, and canned foods. Almost nothing was fresh or fresh-frozen. Then, I started to think about the nutrient content of those items. And, I looked in my own cart to find low carb, high fiber bread and buns, high fiber “organic” cereal—and checked the labels. Sure, they sounded good and they were even labeled “healthy.” But the labels proved they contained extremely little or NO vitamins or nutrients.
Certainly we know that vitamin deficiencies are direct causes of certain diseases- B vitamin deficiencies are the most well-known of these syndromes (thiamine deficiency and cerebellar degeneration, pyridoxine and infant seizures, B12 deficiency and anemia, for some examples.) An excellent summary resource for vitamin and nutrient related neuromuscular syndromes is provided by the Washington University-St. Louis link. (If you’re a health professional, it’s pretty eye-opening and will make you wonder how much more we miss as subclinical presentations.)
We also know that vitamins cannot be engineered by the body, they must be consumed (or injected in the case of some vitamin replacement needs). Vitamins are necessary in the development, maintenance, and repair of human cells. They are co-enzymes and anti-oxidants. The dietary anti-oxidants are: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, carotenoids, isoflavones, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins. The antioxidants work by delaying/inhibiting oxidation or by slowing oxidation by removing the substrate or resultant oxygen “free radicals.”
I want to give you some homework and resource links listed at the end. I hope my experience in the check out line inspires you to look at the nutrition labels of your processed foods and to look seriously at your menu planning and see if they measure up to the standards we need for optimal health for ourselves and our families. Then, do a little soul-searching and figure out how to fix your menus. Today, I’m making the “Anti-oxidant Soup” recipe archived under “Recipes” in this blog. It’s also a Lenten Friday—which means vegetarian or fish—so, I’m good for today.
At the least, you’d better consider a daily, good quality multi-vitamin and micronutrient supplement. The only problem with relying on supplements is that they are largely unregulated and you can’t be sure of their bioavailability. They do need to be taken WITH food in order to be absorbed. But who can guarantee? It’s better to look at natural sources.
Link to the Institute of Medicine Nutritional Guidelines for daily intake of Nutrients This table will give you reference amounts of nutrients. Please note that these are recommendations for daily intake. Since many micronutrients are not stored by the body, you can’t eat a month’s worth one day and nothing for the rest of the month!
Link to USDA Nutrition Fact Sheets for Dietary Supplements: Click on the item in the alphabetized list on the main page, then click on the item again on the next page to display the fact sheet.
Link to Vitamin and Mineral Fact Sheets. Follow the same 2 step process as above to get to the individual fact sheet that you want.
Link to Botantical Reference Fact Sheets. Follow the same 2-step process to get to the individual fact sheet that you want.
Whole Foods has a very good link for consumer education with great fact sheets on essential nutrients. Click on the page below and then use click on the fact sheet you want from the alphabetized list. Note that Vitamin B3—Niacin—is listed as “Niacin” and not under Vitamins.
Posted by Karen
at 09:04 CST
Updated: Friday, 24 February 2012 09:30 CST
Friday, 17 February 2012
Enchiladas and Black Bean Salad
Here's a great low carb dinner that's fairly quick to prep, whether serving a couple or a crowd. Multiply as needed.
Enchiladas (makes 8-10 filled)
Prep a Pyrex baking dish with canola spray.
Brown and cook thoroughly, 1 lb. ground beef (or substitute ground turkey or tofu).
Add 1 can of drained tomatoes with chilis.
Remove from heat. Add about 2 oz. shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese and 1/2 can of Salsa Verde enchilada sauce (green sauce). Mix all together.
Divide filling into 1 package of Low Carb Tortillas (8-10 in a package depending on manufacturer). Roll and place edge side down in pan.
Cover filled tortillas with remaining 1/2 can of enchilada sauce and top with additional 2-4 oz shredded cheese and freshly chopped cilantro.
Bake for 40 minutes in 350 degree oven until heated through and cheese is melted.
Serve with this quick salad of Mixed greens and herbs. Dress with lemon juice and oil, (remembering to "fatigue le salad" by tossing 40 times)! Top with 1/2 can of rinsed and drained black beans. (Reserve additional beans in the refrigerator for another salad or dish.)
Plate with extra salsa or sour cream, as desired.
Posted by Karen
at 16:59 CST
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Drs. O'Mara made the paper
I know this is a bit of personal indulgence, but--Donna Vickroy captured what we feel is the essence of a strong marriage in this article.
We've spent virtually our entire adult lives as both married and as physicians. Our farm is indeed our parallel career path and evolves out of the same value system and respect for life, reason, logic, belief in eternity and faith in God.
Posted by Karen
at 08:35 CST
Saturday, 11 February 2012
I can't believe it's already time to start picking out your seeds, but it is...
Here's a photo of the first set of seeds I've bought for this season. I'm picking out seeds that I will be sowing directly into the soil, so it's going to be a few months before I actually plant them. I just have to get them snagged before they're sold out. All of the above seeds have relatively short plant-to-germinate-to-pick times. Our growing season in northwestern Illinois is painfully short, but all of these plants work fine.
For tomatoes--I think I'll wait until I see what seeds are already in the soil and waiting to sprout this season. I can alwas put plants in later if last year's seeds fail me.
I will likely put banana pepper and eggplant plants in later. I have an amazing Mexican stuffed banana pepper recipe to share with you this Summer--I made it for the entire ER last year when dozens of banana peppers ripened simultaneously.
Still have more seed shopping to do--some short carrots and Spaghetti squash would be nice, and of course, I still need the onion and garlic sets, the rosemary and lavender plants...I am so excited that most of my herbs are perennial woody plants and will be back again this year.
More to share, but --fair warning: Get those seeds soon or the selection will be picked over or gone!
Posted by Karen
at 16:36 CST
Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2012 16:49 CST
Friday, 10 February 2012
This Pizza looks very tempting, doesn’t it?
Hard to believe it’s vegetarian. In fact it packs a lot of vegetables in a very sneaky way…hidden under the cheese. The only caveat is not what you put on the pizza, but the crust that holds it together.
If you are very skilled at working with dough, you can use the standard Hot Roll Mix, and after the first rising, divide the dough in half. Freeze half and use the remaining to make a 16 inch pizza (that’s the giant one you see in the picture. This pizza crust will have 150 carbs in the entire crust, or if sliced into 8 generous slices, then about 19 grams per slice. If you serve this pizza with a dinner salad, even a very hungry adult can’t eat more than 2 slices.
Still, you may want to conserve carbohydrates even more.
If so, I would suggest that you make individual pizzas using a high fiber, low carbohydrate tortilla shell. Here’s a photo of one of my favorite low carb tortillas. Use the same ingredients listed below but divide by 4 individual pizza.
Either way you go, I’ve included the carb count for the pizza toppings, based on what you’d need to put on the 16 inch mega-pizza, assuming you’re serving it to 4 hungry adults.
Vegetable Pizza (serving 4 hungry adults)
Amount Measure Ingredient
1 16 inch Pizza Crust
4 oz Pizza Sauce
10 oz cooked, drained spinach
1 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
4 oz canned, chopped mushrooms, drained
4 oz canned, roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)
1 small finely chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
Build the pizza by first applying the sauce, then distribute the cooked spinach, red pepper and mushrooms. Toss the fresh baby spinach leaves on top for additional texture. Then add the cheese. Finally top with finely chopped onion and fresh garlic and sprinkle a few dashes of chili powder across the top.
Bake freshly made dough crust about 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees. But a individual pizzas built on a tortilla shell will be done in about 10 minutes. Either way, let pizza stand a couple minutes before slicing.
Vegetarian can be addicting--just watch your crust!
Nutrition (calculated from all recipe ingredients, excluding crust, for ¼ of the pizza, that is, 1 expected serving size )
Calories From Fat: 71
Total Fat: 8.2g
Posted by Karen
at 12:54 CST
Updated: Friday, 10 February 2012 13:11 CST
Saturday, 4 February 2012
Low Carb Superbowl Food?
Remember that the game will cross dinner time--so you've got to make foods that can be munched down in front of the TV, right?
A few last minute suggestions to mitigate the carb attack on Superbowl Sunday.
Let’s play “Instead of -------, Make -------“
Instead of Nachos and Cheese Sauce---
Make a giant Taco Salad with chopped lettuce, onions, black beans, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa
Instead of Hot Dogs and Chips---
Make Brats on low carb buns with grilled onions— served with Cole Slaw with vinegar-and-oil dressing and baked beans (you can make them low carb, too!). If you want to try some fresh fruit salad, the one to make is chopped melon cubes with berries, just sprinkle a little Splenda (or even a tiny bit of sugar) and toss to draw out the juices.
Instead of Hamburgers----
Make mini-meatballs from lean beef and/or lamb- serve with Greek cucumber and yogurt dipping sauce
Instead of Beer and Pop---
OK—you have to have beer, but why not have light beer in that cooler, along with really great low carb root beer, diet cola, diet gingerale, and seltzer! Encourage alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic beverages.
Instead of Brownies for that sweet tooth---
Brew some really good, strong coffee and set out dark chocolate truffles or other dark chocolate candy.
Once you start thinking about these substitutions, I know you’ll come up with more great ideas.
Warning—don’t even try to put out veggies and dip or fresh fruit. You’re just kidding yourself.
Hope your team wins!
Posted by Karen
at 10:10 CST
Thursday, 2 February 2012
Crustless Vegetable Quiche
“Baked Eggs”, “Crustless Quiche”, “Fritatta”—whatever you call it—it’s a high protein, ultra low carbohydrate and (depending upon what you throw in it) great way to get VEGETABLES into your diet right from the start of the day.
It’s a pretty good idea for Superbowl Sunday breakfast/brunch. It will keep your family satisfied until the “food fest” of pre-game, then game-time, shows.
Here’s the recipe for:
Vegetable Crustless Quiche (for 2)
Prep a Pyrex baking pan. Set the oven to preheat to 350 degrees.
Distribute on the bottom of the pan--1 cup of cooked, drained and chopped greens (spinach is great, but chard, kale-any greens will do)
Next, chop 2 seeded Plum tomatoes ( or substitute equivalent amount in reconstituted dehydrated tomatoes or sundried tomatoes)
Optional veggies—Chopped black olives or chopped, canned or cooked, chopped and drained mushrooms are good—likewise any leftover veggie from the night before -- can be added here, or not—depending on availability.
Add, 4 oz shredded cheese of your choice.
Whisk 4 eggs and 1/3 cup of milk together with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning (or more fresh chopped parsley and basil!) according to your taste preferences and pour over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until eggs are set.
Serve as is, pass the hot sauce—or you can kick it up with salsa or leftover, heated marinara sauce. Or whatever suits your interest at the time.
What a great, sneaky way to get those veggies in!
Posted by Karen
at 17:23 CST
Saturday, 28 January 2012
Mardi Gras King Cake
No, I am not going to give you a recipe for Mardi Gras King Cake, though I will show you a picture of the final product.
As you probably guessed, it's the first time I made a King Cake.
But I HAD to do it at least once. You see, on Epiphany, we had a talk with the Religious Ed students about the Three Wise Men. That eventually led to a discussion about the traditions associated with The Three Wise Men, the symbolic colors, etc. Eventually it included some discussion about the Mardi Gras celebrations. And that led to the King Cake.
It's a rich brioche dough, that's rolled out and filled with a pecan-praline filling, then rolled up and shaped into the circular form you see. Once it's baked and cooled, you put a Confectioner's sugar glaze and colored granulated sugar crystals in the tradional gold, green, purple colors or--the colors of the three wise men's gifts: gold, frankencense and myrrh. Finally the "Baby King" doll is "hidden" in the cake. Because it's a choking hazard, mine is sitting outside for the grabbing.
After the long discussion about the Wise Men, I HAD to bake the King Cake for them.
But, my comments today aren't about the Three Wise Men or the King Cake. They're about "portion control."
Clearly this cake isn't going to be cut in the portions determined by the creator of the recipe. The carbohydrate count of a 1/18th of this cake is nearly 60 grams. The kids will be getting a sliver--that's all they need anyway. It's a taste of a tradition, a sample sharing, they don't NEED more than that to feel the satisfaction of the celebration.
In my last post, I commented that you could make a hearty soup out of the leftovers from the Balsamic Beef and Mushrooms. Well, it turned out that I had enough beef to make both soup and a Shepherd's Pie.
But, in thinking about portion control, I really needed to concern myself most about the carbohydrate count coming from the mashed potatoes in the Shepherd's Pie. I found that instead of coating the whole top of the beef and vegetables with mashed potatoes, I could easily get by with 4 half-scoops, one in the middle of each quadrant. That meant my Shepherd's Pie for 2 would only have 16 grams of carbohydrate from the potatoes for each portion. And, you wouldn't miss the extra potatoes.
Just like with the King's Cake, sometimes you only need a taste to feel the tradition, right?
Posted by Karen
at 14:47 CST
Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2012 15:17 CST
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Balsamic Beef with Mushrooms
No reason not to cook dinner with this extremely simple main course: Balsamic Beef with Mushrooms.
I found this recipe originally years ago in a soup company cookbook.
What a great idea! There's virtually no prep involved. And, if you are a sensible cook, you will realize that the leftover juices and beef and mushrooms not used for dinner today, serve to be the basis for a hearty soup tomorrow!
Balsamic Beef with Mushrooms
One 2-3 lb chuck roast with or without bones
1- 26 oz jar of marinara sauce (your own or your favorite Italian pre-made pasta sauce)
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
8 oz.sliced mushrooms
It's this simple:
- Pour off about 6 oz. sauce into bottom of prepped crockpot.
- Put the roast in the crockpot
- Add the vinegar to remaining sauce in jar and shake to blend.
- Place sliced mushrooms on and around the roast
- Pour the balsamic sauce over all.
- Cook all day (8 hours) on "low.
This is what is looks like when you start. (I probably should have used my larger crockpot)
Remove the meat to a large platter and cut into chuncks. Serve along side (or over)--steamed greens, mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or egg noodles. What you choose as your side is determined by your dietary needs--clearly, low carb and high fiber vegetables are preferred.
After several hours...
Spoon additional sauce and mushrooms on top.
REMEMBER: the remaining sauce, juices, beef and mushrooms can be turned into a hearty soup with the addition of cooked, diced vegetables, some chopped greens, and additional vegetable cooking water or plain water--season with additional basil, bay leaf, salt and pepper as desired.
Posted by Karen
at 12:31 CST
Saturday, 14 January 2012
"Minute Steak"--an oxymoron worth the irony
I am still recovering from waking up to 3 degrees above zero this morning. The horses are fed and I punched some holes in the creek with a huge pole this morning for the cows, though on further inspection, I found they'd done the same higher up the valley.
However, merely walking around in my 3 layers of clothes worked some calories and it did give me an appetite. The "Minute Steak" I cooked yesterday will be great for tonight's dinner.
I'm not sure how it got the name "Minute Steak" because it clearly takes a bit of prep time and you need to bake it at least 1& 1/2 hours to get it fork-tender and to reduce the juices to a "gravy-consistency."
Minute Steaks for 2
4 "Minute" or "Cube" Steaks
1/4 c. flour, seasoned with seasoning salt, ground pepper
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
Dredge the steaks in the seasoned flour and brown both sides. Place in a prepped baking dish.
! medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Saute until carmelized and spoon on top of the meat.
Pour 1 can of condensed beef broth--undiluted--over the onions and meat. It will look like this.
Although I've never tried it, you CAN simply use a can of condensed French Onion soup, undiluted and forget about carmelizing your onion. I suspect it would work just fine, too. But make sure you still take the time to do the seasoned flour-and-browning step with the meat.
Then, bake in a 350 degree oven until juices are reduced by half, creating a great sauce and fork-tender "minute steaks." This will take about an hour and a half.
Below is what you'll have when you pull it out. See how the sauce line is reduced? (If you sprayed your pan with a little cooking spray it will be easy to clean up!) It really is a great comfort food!
Posted by Karen
at 09:08 CST
Updated: Saturday, 14 January 2012 09:39 CST
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