It has been awhile since I have posted, and over these past few years, a lot has happened in my life. I have struggled with infertility, had a child, lost a parent, moved to Oregon, and found new passions in my life. During this hiatus, I have also worked on my own personal development as a human being (emotional and physical.) It's amazing how having a child can motivate you to be your best in every aspect of life. All of this growth has changed my perspective and attitude, and has allowed me to experience new things in order to help others. In the upcoming months, I will be spotlighting a new topic that I have personally dealt with or are currently working on. I will be shedding light on these subjects with science and personal truths that will hopefully help you along your journey.
With that said, let's get started!
Turmeric goes by many names but it is commonly called Curcuma longa (domesticated) or Cucuma aromatic (in the wild). It is a relative of ginger, and is a perennial that grows in the tropical regions of Southern Asia. Its roots are bulbs that produce rhizomes (underground plant stems). Although it grows in many tropical locations, the majority of turmeric is grown in India and is used as a main ingredient in curry. It is also used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Turmeric contains protein (6.3%), fat (5.1%), minerals (3.5%, carbohydrate (69.4%), and moisture (13.1%).
Turmeric has a warm, bitter taste, and is frequently used to flavor and color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. It is considered safe in cooking with minimal side effects. Alone or added to other spices, herbs, and aromatics, turmeric can boost the flavor of many dishes such as rice, chicken, turkey, vegetables or even salad dressing. It's also commonly used in pickling recipes to provide a zingy, tangy taste as well. Turmeric is best absorbed when combined with black pepper.
There has been a lot research done on the therapeutic advantages of turmeric and curcumin; almost too numerous to list. An overview published in Advanced Experimental Medical Biology in 2007 states that, "Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and other chronic illnesses." This article will highlight a few of the more researched areas.
Turmeric has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. In both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds. Curcumin, the phytochemical found in turmeric, has been studied as a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is the most active constituent of turmeric with very few side-effects and is generally considered safe; however, some people can experience stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea.
Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency.
Curcumin has been shown in animal studies to stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile acids, which some people think may help improve digestion. One double-blinded, placebo-controlled study found that turmeric reduced symptoms of bloating and gas in people suffering from indigestion. On the other hand, turmeric does not seem to help treat stomach ulcers. In fact, there is some evidence that it may increase stomach acid, making existing ulcers worse.
Studies of turmeric and curcumin have also shown to work as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis; act as a weak phytoestrogen with some cancer protective effects; induces programmed death of colon cancer cells; and suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
The bottom line
Turmeric and curcumin may have some exciting health properties, but there are not enough definitive human studies to make any recommendations at this time. Most of the research I have reviewed involved the extract curcumin. Until there is an extensive amount of data that the supplement is best, cooking with turmeric may be the best way to go. Whole foods are generally better and safer for the body.
This article only suggests using turmeric as a spice in cooking. If you wish to take turmeric or curcumin as a supplement, please speak with your medical provider before doing so, as it can interfere with other drugs you may be taking and may not be safe for use for people who are undergoing chemotherapy, pregnancy, have GERD, or have gallstones. Turmeric may also slow blood clotting and taking turmeric along with anti-clotting medications might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Bobby Flay’s Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric and Ginger
Courtesy of the food network.com (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/oven-roasted-cauliflower-with-turmeric-and-ginger-recipe.html?oc=linkback)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Whisk together the oil, mustard seeds, jalapeno, ginger, and turmeric in a small bowl.
Place cauliflower in a medium baking dish and toss with the flavored oil and season with salt. Roast until lightly golden brown and just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Chattopadhyay I. Biswas K, et al. Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications. Current Science. 87 (1): 44-53, 2004
Liu J Chen S, et al. Recent progress in studying curcumin and its nano-preperations for cancer therapy. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 19 (11): 1974-93, 2013
Asher GN Speiman K. Clinical utility of curcumin extract. Altern Ther Health Med. 19(2):20-2, 2013.
Asher GN Speiman K. Clinical utility of curcumin extract. Altern Ther Health Med. 19(2):20-2, 2013.
What a wonderful day set aside once a year to focus on the loved ones in your life. This doesn’t me it is an excuse to go off your meal plan! You can still have a great valentine’s day without indulging in candies and sugary goodies.
Here are some ideas to start you out with.
Have an exercise date! New fun fitness trends are always popping up. Take to the sky at a trampoline park; try rock climbing; take an aerial or trapeze class; or go roller / ice skating together. Whatever you may decide to do on this day, remember to make it ACTIVE!
If food is on your mind, and you are watching your carbs, steak and/or lobster are a great option for the main course. Just pair it with a nice salad or (my favorite) Brussels sprouts.
Dessert can be a little tricky. It is pretty hard to find a low-carb dessert without a lot of artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. A few lower carb options are:
Peaches and Cream
- (1 cup peaches and fresh whipped cream), you can also use 1 cup chopped strawberries or ½ cup blueberries.
- For the whipped cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. Stevia (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Whip heavy cream with an egg better (I just use my ninja) until stiff. If you are adding vanilla or sweetener, add it in before it stiffens
Cheesecake Cupcakes: http://www.nuttyabouthealth.com/2013/01/13/low-carb-cheesecake-cupcakes/
Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries – use higher cacao chocolate (lower carbs) a good one I have used before is Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie 86% Cacao. Making these is so simple. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler and dip in washed strawberries.
Today we are talking about carbs. Starches in particular. There has been a lot of talk lately about starches and grains being “bad” for you. I recently went to a lecture from the NY Times bestselling author of Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter. Now, the evidence is overwhelming (and has been) regarding lower carbs diet and cardiovascular and neurological health, but Dr. Perlmutter is also claiming that gluten is to blame for the rise in dementia, decreased libido, depression, chronic headaches, anxiety, epilepsy, and ADHD. If you are interested in reading a great article about this topic please see http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/this-is-your-brain-on-gluten/282550/.
Since the jury is still out on gluten, I am going to focus on good grains this week to incorporate into your diet. One of my favorites is quinoa! It is a great grain (actually a seed) packed with fiber and protein (provides all 9 essential amino acids). Others grain to include in your meal plan are whole grains (make sure it says this in the first 2 ingredients. Examples of whole grains include:
· Brown rice
· Bulgur (cracked wheat)
· Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
· Wild rice
Adding any of these into your diet is a great healthy decision. If you are looking for something different to make this evening, check out these great recipes for quinoa from cooking light!!
Ireland, it was only a 10 day adventure for us, but what an experience! I will not be able to share my experience in one blog, so it will be broken up into several installations.
Ireland is such a lush and beautiful country with so much of it still left untouched, including the food! Food is still made very similar to the way it was many years ago, real, fresh, and with unprocessed ingredients. Recipes are still handed down throughout generations. Ireland does have its share of processed foods, but not as much as in the states. For example, as we were driving around Ireland we saw a lot of livestock, and not one of them was in a small muddy pen. These wonderful animals were left to roam in some of the most beautiful terrain I have seen so far in my travels. ALL of their beef is grass-fed and free range! This is true for their lamb as well (another Irish specialty). I even noticed a difference in the milk. It tasted a little creamier. Beef is an important mainstay in their diet and has been for many centuries, as cattle played an important part in Irish food from the middle ages until the arrival of the potato in Ireland in the 16th century. The meat was predominantly food for the rich with the poor making do with the milk, cheese and butter which were supplemented with grains and barley for nourishment.
Oh, and speaking of butter. It was the most decadent and delicious butter I have ever tasted!! I can see why the Irish use a lot of butter in their diet. In a scholarly article from 1960, A.T. Lucas wrote that “recent international statistics show that the consumption of butter per head of the population is higher in Ireland than almost anywhere else in the world.” The Irish like their butter plain and flavored. From the 12th century on, there are records of butter that was flavored with onion and garlic.
Despite hearing the warnings from a few that have traveled before, the Irish gastronomy was quite tasty. Yes, they make a lot of dishes involving potatoes, but what they can do with a potato is amazing! The Irish diet is heavy on dairy, meat, cabbages, onions, garlic, and parsnips, with some wild herbs and greens, and potatoes. As far as fruit goes, they eat wild berries, like blackberries and rowanberries, and apples. If you lived near the coast, edible seaweed like dulse and sloke made for tasty salads and side dishes. Being that most of the Irish dishes are heavy with a lot of red meat and heavy dairy (creams, cheese, and butter), it is not too surprising that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the #1 cause of death in all of Ireland. I definitely noticed as the first thing I wanted when I came back to the states was a HUGH salad! The closest thing I had that came close to a salad while I was in Ireland was some red rocket (arugula / salad in Ireland) with tomatoes, but that is for another discussion.
In this installment, I will discuss breakfast which is as we all know, (say it together kids), “the most important meal of the day”. The traditional Irish breakfast, while be it yummy, is a bit of a heart-attack on a plate if eaten daily. I was assured by the locals that it is not and typically eaten once or twice a year… or daily for a tourist on holiday;)
The traditional breakfast consists of bacon/ham, poached or over easy egg, sausage, beans, potatoes, roasted tomato half, and black (blood) and white pudding. The puddings are not for everyone. I must say that I can be quite adventuresome, but I just could not try the pudding. It actually is not a pudding but a sausage made from pigs' blood, onions, herbs, spices, oatmeal or barley. It is then sliced and fried and served for breakfast.
If you are interested in trying this as St. Patrick’s day meal, the following are the traditional directions for preparing this dish (courtesy of http://www.foodireland.com/recipes/Breakfast/irishbreakfast.htm):
Place a knob of Irish Butter on a frying pan or skillet. (There is a noticeable difference in taste when you use Irish Butter over cooking oil )
Over a medium heat, fry the bacon until it’s done the way you like. Try not to cook it like American bacon which is usually done until real crispy.
Keep the Irish Bacon soft and well browned.
With four plates in the warming section of your oven, place the cooked bacon on one plate and keep hot. You can place a paper towel on the plate to absorb excess fat from the bacon.
Place the sausages on the frying pan and cook till golden brown all around.
Place in oven on a second plate - keep hot.
Empty contents of can of beans in to a small saucepan and place on low heat.
Slice the puddings and place on the frying pan.
Cut the tomatoes in to quarters and place on pan also.
Slice the Previously boiled chilled potatoes in to slices about 1" thick and place on pan.
Fry the tomatoes, puddings and potatoes till golden brown both sides.
Place in the oven and keep hot.
Finally, fry the eggs and grate Dubliner cheese on top if desired.
This breakfast is great washed down with Irish tea and served with brown bread.
Outside of the traditional breakfast, most Irish have a small breakfast consisting of a piece of toast and tea, or some fruit or oats, which were also a staple in the Irish diet. Oats not only fed the family but also supported the livestock. In fact, Ireland has now expanded and diversified its crops to include wheat, barley, and sugar beets, in addition to the favored potatoes and oats.
I love to share my knowledge about nutrition and wellness. Please feel free to contact me for topic requests.