The overwhelming majority of type II diabetes is preventable. If we pay attention to our nutrition and exercise we can control our path toward or away from type II diabetes. If your family has a history of diabetes, obesity, or other endocrine disorders, you may be more likely to develop diabetes. Once thought to be genetic, science has revealed it’s our environment (and family’s lifestyle behaviors) that can lead to type II diabetes. What’s more, type II diabetes can be reversed nearly 9 times out of 10 with proper nutritional guidance and an adequate exercise program. While many walk the line of pre-diabetes, the likelihood of getting full-blown diabetes increases significantly if you do nothing to change your ways. I argue that many of us, particularly those who are overweight or obese, are at risk of developing diabetes. Dr. Mark Hyman has explained time and again that when it comes to your body, its sugar levels, and its inflammatory responses, you’re either diabetic or you’re not- much like you’re either pregnant or you’re not. If your blood sugars are out of the normal range, even by just a little, on a regular basis, you’ve crossed the line. Pre-diabetic seems to be a gentle way of saying, “you’re a diabetic, but we don’t have to give you medication- yet.” Thankfully, you have the power to change it; with the help of your doctor, and perhaps, an awesome endocrinologist, you can turn that diabetes train around and live a long, healthy life.
Diabetic Living and Better Homes and Gardens published Diabetes: Meals by the Plate in 2014. I find that this is a simple cookbook with a no-nonsense approach to balancing your nutirion, particularly if you’re struggling with managing your diabetic diet. The book is based on the template of 1/2 a plate of nonstarchy veggies, 1/4 plate of protein, 1/4 plate of starch or grain, and dairy or fruit on the side at each meal. Simple. Direct. Manageable.
My favorite recipes:
The Trattoria-Style Chicken encrusted with parmesan is particularly easy recipe to follow. It’s paired with a lovely spinach salad and spaghetti. See? You can have some carbs. Just not ALL THE CARBS. (p. 16)
The Indian-Style Beef & Rice recipe is definitely a comfort food type of meal. The peach-grape salsa that accompanies the Indian-spiced beef brings just enough citrus to the flavor party. Even better? The Basmati rice with mint and lemon peel to boot. The skillet-roasted cauliflower and squash that’ll fill 1/2 your plate will fill you up and satisfy for sure. (p. 72)
And for the vegetarian option, I’m a fan of the broccoli cheese tortellini soup. How can something so decadent be less than 400 a serving? Anyhow, you get to whip out your Dutch oven for this recipe and the kohlrabi chopped salad is pretty inspired. (Considering I only ever eat kohlrabi in stews.) (p. 202)
I hope you’ll find the time to take care of diabetic diet, your blood sugars, and yourself. Enjoy and delight in a delightful cookbook that everyone can enjoy!
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9 Healthy Snack Tips for Your Summer Road Trip
Summertime means road trip time! Here are some great ideas to fight off those snack attacks, and keep your energy up, too! Plan your snack pack before you hit the highway to avoid unhealthy fast food stops and remember that a small insulated cooler is a must have.
- It’s A Wrap! Sandwiches can add protein and hearty grains to your diet. Keep wraps made with meat and cheese or hummus or veggies in a cooler. Other options, like peanut butter and jelly on whole grain, can be kept at room temperature.
- Keeping It Cool: Yogurt. Whether it’s in a tube, made into a low-fat smoothie or mixed with fruit or granola, keep these road trip snacks in the cooler. It’s great snack for kids and adults.
- Hot On The Trail. Make trail mix at home that keeps well in a storage container with a lid. Combine granola, raw nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Add a few dark chocolate chips for sweetness or wasabi peas for spice!
- Healthy Can Be Gouda, Too: low fat cheese, string cheese, single serve cottage cheese or cheese cubes. There are many low-fat cheeses, or soy or nut-based cheeses for those who are lactose intolerant. Prep cheese slices at home before and toss in the cooler. Pair with your favorite crackers you portion ahead of time, making it “snack-friendly” for the car.
- Dip It! Veggie Style. Fresh veggies can be sliced and stored in an insulated cooler. Road trip choices include cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets, cucumbers, celery and snap peas. Add peanut butter or hummus as a dip to add good fats and protein, too.
- Energy Bars….Sweet! Replace those candy bars with an energy or granola bar. Protein and fiber, now that’s a healthier choice.
- Fruits, For Sure. Trip-friendly fruits that have been washed and sliced at home are a quick go-to from the cooler. Grapes and berries are finger-sized already. Others can be cubed and stored in containers, or eaten whole.
- Thirst Quenchers. Healthy beverages kept on ice are really nice on the road. Water, seltzer, 100 percent vegetable and fruit juices are the way to go.
- Go nuts! Craving crunchy? Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whatever your favorite nut may be. Or go for sunflower or pumpkin seeds, air popped popcorn or rice cakes.
Summer is finally upon us, so I will regale you with a brief and embarrassing winter tale. Way back in January, the hubby and I decided we were feeling kind of crummy and would do something to help us feel healthier. After some thought, discussion (mainly of howto add something to already overloaded schedules), and a bit of research, we had a breakthrough. We decided to embark on a 3-day juice reboot. Please note I said “reboot” and not cleanse. Neither one of us had the time, energy, or pardon me, stomach to deal with the actual cleansing part (read colonics and diuretics and other unpleasantries).
So, inspired by Joe Cross, who gave us the reboot option and is probably best known for Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, and after a quick juicer purchase, we began to juice our way back to good health. We found some good recipes. Joe has plenty of suggestions, plus, there’s an abundance of resources from the library. You can also find plenty of suggestions online too.We followed Joe’s basic pattern for a 3-day reboot, leading up to it by slowly going vegan, and, when the juicing began, having a breakfast juice, a morning snack juice, a lunch juice, an afternoon juice, a dinner juice, and a dessert juice. We stuck to it pretty well, but here are some reasons why I call it a juice fail:
1. We decided to do it so quickly so that we could be ready in time to start it over a 3-day weekend that we weren’t 100% prepared. It takes a lot of fruits and veggies to make full servings of juice, so we were running to the store a lot.
2. Winter is a terrible time to juice. The amount of fresh fruits and veggies available is a lot smaller during these months and more expensive. Additionally, since most of our nutrients were coming from juices, there weren’t really hot meals to be had (though I would look forward to the herbal tea we’d have at bedtime with a fierce and humiliating desperation). Long story short, I was cold ALL the time during our reboot.
3. Aside from being cold all the time, I was also hungry and really missed chewing. I know how insane that sounds, but I do feel the cold weather affects appetite, and I think there was a certain loss of comfort from taking this on during winter, especially since we were so new to it.
4. Finally, although we both agreed that the reboot did help us “reset” some of our eating habits (and move away from some really bad ones we’d fallen into), the hubby and I were not as prepared to stick with some of the better habits. For example, we were going to use it as a time to transition into Mark Bittman’s VB6 plan. (Please note that the Farmers’ Market Chef, and I have mentioned Bittman before.)
But some positives did come out of this experience, some greater knowledge that we are applying now. Next month, I will tell you how we are turning the juice fail into a health win.
Not too ago, I was a stress eater. Like many people, I would eat not just because I was hungry, but because it helped me forget things. Sometimes it was more like a zombie would eat than a human would. Other times it was not numbness I sought, but extreme pleasure.
I tried to stop, but it wasn’t until I got Invisalign braces that my eating became more structured and I found myself breaking bad habits and eating for the right reasons. Plus, I found music to be a much better, much healthier pain killer than food and, although I’m still a newbie with it, meditation became an ally.
The one thing, though, I never seriously considered in all of it (maybe because I didn’t want to) is that food would or could ever be a substitute for desire. Even so, I can’t help but find Alexandra Jamieson’s Women, Food and Desire both compelling and helpful. Alexandera Jamieson is a Holistic health counselor and co-star of the award-winning documentary Super Size Me. While some of what she writes can be a bit self-evident (“it’s time to start eating right” and ”women who overeat do so to find some kind of emotional solace” are among the few) there’s also the painfully real, which is not said nearly enough:
The intense pressure we’re under to be perceived as desirable, in an objectified way, has us either starving ourselves so we don’t have to feel how lonely or sexually unfulfilled we may be…When sex becomes too dangerous for us to fully enjoy, food becomes our version of safe sex.
But Jamieson is not just here to trouble us though with reminders of how scary sex can be or how unfair our society is to women. She wants to be our cheerleader as well and she becomes one in a non-irritating, warm and sincere manner. Though needing and eating food often makes us feel unwelcome in our own bodies, food instead “should delight us, ignite us and make us feel good.”
It’s exactly because the author is on our side and not lecturing us or talking down to readers that I like this book so much. It may sometimes repeat things we already know, but in this case we do need to be reminded how dangerous criticism of ourselves and others can be, and that in doing so, we are “failing to see that person at all.” No one, Jamieson says, not even a mother, should (whether with cruel intention or not) shame us because of our bodies.
Jamieson stresses three common reasons why we may sublimate food for other things: off-kilter family relationships (so many of us know all about that), body alienation (whether we eat to lose ourselves in our own bodies or we don’t eat as a way to try and disappear), and sexual pleasure. It’s this focus that strengthens Women, Food and Desire and makes it heads above other self-help books on women and food.
As if the empathy and sincerity isn’t enough, the writer also include the neuroscience behind cravings, how to break lifelong eating habits, and practical tips for food shopping. There is also advice on getting better rest and seeing exercise as something fun to do rather than an excruciating punishment to atone for some past sin.
Jamieson is popular with both readers and critics because she genuinely wants to help ease people into rethinking and recharging the way they see food and their bodies in a world where so many fashion magazines and TV shows hold up an “ideal” image of how women should eat, be, and look. Isn’t that refreshing?
Martha Stewart and all her kitchen minions have come together in this wonderfully simple, easy-to-follow-and-replicate cookbook. Meatless contains over 200 recipes for vegetarians, vegans, and those of us looking to get more “veg” in our diets. In fact, the book is dedicated “To everyone who realizes that a balanced diet relying more heavily on vegetable than on animal can result in a longer and healthier life.” Stewart’s foreword shares a story of her daughter’s pet lamb being slaughtered for dinner and the reading of certain books and viewing of films which together with the encouragement of friends and family brought this book to fruition. Vegetable-based meals are not only the trend, but a legitimate way to eat and live well. This cookbook is, truly, for everyone. The introduction by Editor in Chief of Whole Living, Alanna Slang, provides a legend for the recipes which are Vegan, Gluten-free, & Special Diet. She also goes further to provide an outline of “protein powerhouses” like tempeh, seitan, eggs, and bulgur.
My favorite recipes in this book are unlike any I’ve ever seen or have made for myself before:
1. Portobello & Zucchini Tacos p. 240
Roasted veggies are the best and they are filling. Tacos are easy and the sky is the limit when it comes to “the fixin’s.” This recipe asks that you cut your portobello and zucchini into strips and roast them in the oven with a light drizzle of olive oil and seasonings. These hearty veggies will act as your protein for these tacos. Simple. Simple. SIMPLE! Choose your favorite taco staples like cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, etc. to pull it all together. My favorite thing to add that wasn’t mentioned in this book- grilled avocado! Squirt some fresh lemon and lime and a bit of kosher salt – and you’ve got something really special.
2. Grilled Asparagus & Ricotta Pizzas p. 260
This one is so easy and you get to use your grill! Grill your asparagus until you get those nice browned spots. You can get some fresh pizza dough from the grocery store and prepare it on the grill (or in oven and then, transfer to grill) or use some other flat bread like naan and grill it. Be sure to use olive oil and appropriate temps to get those nice grill marks and cook/heat the dough through. Once your pizza base is done, all you have to do is add some fresh ricotta and your grilled asparagus and cover your grill to let all those flavors come/stick together (2 minutes). Remove from grill and eat your heart out!
3. Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon & Cilantro p. 336
It took a while for me to believe the in the heartiness that cauliflower has, but it really can fill you up! With the right combination of spices and time in the oven, cauliflower can be a tender, substantial meal in itself. This recipe allows for a lot of variation. I would suggest fresh cilantro and lemon juice for finishing this dish. It’s not a lot of work, lightly toss chunks/slices of cauliflower in olive oil and seasoning, roast until tender and finish with my previous suggestions. Delish!
Eating your vegetables can be really pleasurable when you have the right recipes in hand. And with Meatless you’ll find something great on each page.
Michael Moss’ book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013) provides an inside look at something most people prefer to ignore: what’s in the convenient processed foods that make our lives easier. It’s easy to agree that we should eat less sugar, salt, or fat, but when it comes to actually doing it, few things are more difficult. I still cook in oil or butter, purchase full-fat food products, and I certainly give in to my enormous sweet tooth. But the big culprit isn’t baking cookies with too much butter or sprinkling salt on vegetables – it’s processed convenience foods that literally addict the people who eat them to copious amounts of salt, sugar, or fat.
I did an experiment earlier this year where I actually paid attention to food labels when I purchased food from the grocery store. (I live in blissful ignorance, guys!) I was shocked by the level of sugar in foods where I would never have expected to find it – fruit products for instance. I also found that nearly everything labeled “low-fat” was much higher in carbohydrates and sugar than their full-fat counterparts.
Just in the introduction to his book, Moss explains how it isn’t just consumers who have become addicted to these three ingredients, it’s the corporations, too, through their desire to achieve the best taste possible at the lowest price. He explains, “Sugar not only sweetens, it replaces more costly ingredients — like tomatoes in ketchup — to add bulk and texture. For little added expense, a variety of fats can be slipped into food formulas to stimulate overeating and improve mouthfeel. And salt, barely more expensive than water, has miraculous powers to boost the appeal of processed food.” (xxix) With that kind of lead, Moss ensures there’s only one conclusion for readers to reach: food corporations have used chemistry and biology to teach us to eat this way in pursuit of profit, and they must be held accountable for that.
One of the most telling observations Moss makes is that many executives from the corporations he investigated for the book “go out of their way to avoid their own products.” (p. 341) Despite attempts at government regulation and reductions in salt, sugar, or fat load in foods, the best option for everyday people is still boring old personal responsibility. “Only we can save us,” as Moss puts it, “we decide what to buy… [and] we decide what to eat.” (pp. 343-347)