Resolutions for 2009

A New Year and a fresh NEW start on bettering myself! Last year I did not stick to my vague resolutions, so this year, I made them more specific and have posted them so it’s publicized if I fail! Eeek!

Try a new sport/physical activity
Drink a liter of water a day
Eat every 4 hours
Workout consistently and participate in races (5k, 10K and half marathons throughout the year)
Eat slower

Maintain desirable glucose readings
Strive for 8 hours of sleep
Continuously read throughout the year (read at least 6 books)
Stop salting my food

What are your resolutions?

Feeding and Hosting for the Family — Diabetic Friendly, Heart Healthy and Weight Watcher’s Appropriate!!

What a task at hand and I have two older brothers and a dad to impress in providing food “with substance.” If you have to provide meals/snacks for your family and friends this holiday that are health cautious, perhaps my ideas can be suitable for you and/or inspiring. Enjoy!

Per serving: serves 1
French Toast Nuggets
1 Weight Watchers bagel (the fiber content is incredible!)
1/3 cup of egg substitute 2 packets of Equal 2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients except the bagel in a small bowl and stir with a utensil. Rip the bagel in bite-size pieces and place as many as possible that will fit in the bowl with the mixture. Let the bites soak up the ingredients and then place in a frying pan on the stove. Cook over medium heat and depending on type of pan you may need to spray the pan. I often use spray butter (it adds a little bit of a salty taste).
Cook the bagel bites until they appear a little crispy. If you want to impress guest with the meal presentation, add a dollop of fat free Cool Whip on the side and have sugar-free syrup available. Yum!

Per serving: serves 1
Wrapped Delight
Option 1:
Large tortilla wrap
2% shredded mozzarella cheese
Diced green peppers
Slices of mushrooms
Crushed red pepper flakes
PepperTurkey pepperoni (Has 70% less fat than regular)
(Optional) Lean ham (deli style)
Diced tomatoes

Option 2:
Large tortilla wrap
Fresh mozzarella
Diced cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil

Place all ingredients on half of the tortilla and broil in the oven until the edges begin to appear crisp. Once the tortilla and cheese is cooked and melted, take out of the oven and fold in half. Slice in triangles and serve with baked chips and salsa.

Per serving: serves 4
Melt In Your Mouth Pasta
8 ounces of pasta – mixture of both penne and spiral pasta
3 eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes1 cup of broccoli
4 chicken breasts (cooked then sliced into strips)
1/2 cup of fresh mozzarella

Boil water and put in 1 lb of pasta. Cook until the noodles are slightly still hard. Drain. Put all ingredients except the cheese in a glass, oven stable, dish and bake at 450 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. Right after removing from the oven sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese. Serve with whole grain rolls and nice bright green salad.

Food Pyramids Explained

A couple of days ago, while doing research on Google’s Insights For Search site, I was amazed to discover that the search term “food pyramid” is experiencing a phenomenal growth, up to 80% in the last 90 days. This seemed rather strange and counterintuitive as Google returns over a million and a half pages on food pyramid; Yahoo- a whopping 32 million! If there are so many web pages on the subject, why is that people keep on searching for more information on food pyramids and healthy foods to eat?

I quickly realized that one of the reasons why people are confused is that there are many food pyramids to choose from. The following are just a few examples.

The U.S. government’s USDA Food Guide Pyramid, updated recently and renamed My Pyramid. It offers 12 nutritional and food models geared to different people based on their lifestyle, nutritional, or medical condition needs. The problem is that the government’s efforts, while generally good intentioned, have been quite flawed at actually showing people what makes up a healthy diet. Their recommendations are often based on out-of-date science and influenced by people with business interests in their messages.

Our favorite, the Healthy Eating Pyramid, was developed by the Harvard Medical School, and is an advanced version of the traditional food guide pyramid developed by the USDA, which even though recently improved, is still not quite accurate. Based on the latest science in Nutrition and Medicine, the Health Eating Pyramid is a straightforward and sound guide to choosing a healthy diet. Unaffected by business and commercial interests, its foundation is daily exercise and weight control, since these two related elements strongly influence your chances of staying healthy. The Healthy Eating Pyramid builds from there, showing that you should eat more foods from the bottom part of the pyramid (vegetables, whole grains) and less from the top (red meat, refined grains).

The Healthy Eating Pyramid sits on a foundation of daily exercise and weight control. These two related elements strongly influence your chances of staying healthy and your odds of getting sick. They affect what and how you eat and how your food affects you.

A well-balanced meal should consist of 40 to 50% carbohydrate calories, 20 to 25% of the total calories should come from protein source and 25 to 30% of the total calories should come from a healthy source of fat. Most people find counting calories and grams of fat cumbersome and somewhat annoying. I very much agree. Thus, comparing your dietary intake with one of the food pyramids, may make your life much easier while helping you keep track of the nutrients you get and the gaps you need to bridge. It further allows you to be flexible in what you eat, as you do not need to follow ridged programs.

The Mediterranean food pyramid and diet is considered a low fat, yet high-energy diet; it is a proven way to permanently improve long-term health. Bread is a major part of this diet and it is in many parts mainly eaten in the form of pita bread. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, pasta, rice and seeds are important components. Olive oil accompanies most meals, as it is a main ingredient in food preparation. Dairy products are consumed in low to moderate amounts in the form of cheese and yogurt. Animal proteins are included, but are eaten in lesser amounts compared to plant proteins. Chicken, lamb, fish and goat are the main animal sources.

The cuisine known as the Mediterranean Diet has been popular for centuries and has been gaining the respect of doctors and nutritionists for its healthful benefits. As recently as June 2003 a study involving 22,043 adults in Greece was printed in the New England Journal of Medicine. It concluded that: “… adherence to the traditional (eastern) “Mediterranean Diet” is associated with a significant reduction in mortality.” If eaten with portion control it can lead to weight loss as well.

Also, an interesting aspect of the Mediterranean food pyramid is that it offers its own food pyramid for children, similarly to the Latin American Food Pyramid, by replacing wine with an increased intake of milk, juices, and water.

Unlike the customary Western style of quickly eating large portions, the Mediterranean diet places great emphasis on spending time on preparing and enjoying tasty meals that consist of various small components.

So with all these choices of food pyramids, how do we choose and plan for eating healthy foods? The answer is simple- moderation and balance in nutrition are of utmost importance. The nutritional reality is that our bodies need the proper mix and balance of nutrients, including fats, vitamins, minerals, etc. If we cut on anyone of them, or overdose on others, our bodies receive less than optimal and balanced nutrients and, as a result, increasing the likelihood of diseases.

Stepping up to the plate on greater food regulation

State and local officials push trans fat bans and menu labeling. Some restaurants, diners and manufacturers object.

By Jerry Hirsch 10:14 PM PST, December 16, 2008

Restaurants are being told to list calorie counts on their menus. Schools are banning bake sales, and cities are outlawing new fast-food restaurants in some neighborhoods.State and local governments, concerned about the growing cost of obesity and diabetes and the ever-higher cost of healthcare, are acting more like food police. And more regulations may be ahead.

Decades of federal inaction in fighting the nation’s obesity epidemic and regulating dangerous food ingredients such as artery-clogging trans fats are behind these local and state efforts, said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.The Obama administration, with large majorities in Congress and headed by a president who made healthcare a centerpiece of his campaign, could launch a new era of food regulation, he said. “The Obama administration clearly believes strongly that government has a major role to play in many arenas, including protecting the public’s health.”Jacobson and other proponents of more oversight of what and how the nation eats want to see the Food and Drug Administration split into two agencies, with one focusing on food and the other on drugs and medical devices.

They say the FDA commissioner traditionally has been preoccupied with drug regulation and has allowed food oversight to flounder. Critics cite what they characterize as the agency’s weak, slow and inept efforts this year when melamine was found in contaminated infant formula in the United States and a months-long outbreak of salmonella poisoning in produce sent 286 consumers to the hospital.Greater regulation of food production, preparation and consumption — whether on the local or national level — is controversial.”The government might have good intentions, but can’t average citizens make up their own minds on what to eat? This is an example of nanny government,” said Bill Whalen, an analyst at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.Despite some criticism from food manufacturers and restaurants, state and local officials are setting the pace and defining the agenda. New York City, Philadelphia and California have banned trans fats.Several local health departments — including Los Angeles County — want the federal government to reclassify salt as a food additive, a move that would pave the way for greater regulation.More than a dozen states and numerous cities are pondering legislation patterned after a new California law forcing chain restaurants to list calorie counts on menus. Los Angeles has a one-year moratorium on new fast-food outlets in a 32-square-mile area of South Los Angeles that is home to 500,000 residents. San Jose is looking at a similar proposal.A legislative and consumer backlash against trans fats has pushed big restaurant chains — including KFC, Burger King, IHOP, Applebee’s, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell and Denny’s — to begin to eliminate trans fats from their foods.Yum Brands Inc., the parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, isn’t waiting for more legislation. It plans to add product calorie information to menu boards in its company-owned restaurants nationwide and to encourage franchise owners to do the same. The company said the calorie information would be phased onto menu boards starting this year and be completed by Jan. 1, 2011.It’s a big move by one of the largest purveyors of fast food. Louisville, Ky.-based Yum franchises or owns about 20,000 U.S. restaurants.So far, the local regulatory initiatives have gained momentum because of rising rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, said Amy Winterfeld, a health policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.”If Americans ate healthier food and were more active they would not be as obese and there would not be as many obesity-related healthcare costs,” Winterfeld said.Yet restaurant customers don’t always agree that legislating food rules or forcing chains to post nutritional information is the best way to tackle the problem.”They are going too far trying to regulate people’s lives and health. Soon they will be regulating portions,” said David Yochelson, an Encino attorney who dines out with his family several times a month.Policies such as the fast-food establishment moratorium in Los Angeles border on racism, said Joe R. Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates Inc., a Los Angeles civil rights organization.”It’s insulting. They are saying that if you live in Brentwood you have the ability to make choices for yourself but if you live in South Los Angeles you don’t,” Hicks said.

The restaurant industry calls the trend to legislate food choices a case of mistaken priorities.”With crime and budget-shortfall issues, why are city and state legislators focusing on trans fats and fast-food restaurants?” asked Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Assn.

State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) disagrees. The author of the menu-labeling legislation believes government has a legitimate interest in food-related health issues because of how poor diet affects health and, by extension, state and federal budgets.”As long as we have an obesity epidemic and a health crisis in our communities there is a role for government to play. The debate comes over how much is too much and how much is too little,” Padilla said.Menu labeling gives people the information to make healthful eating decisions, he noted, but it doesn’t tell people how to eat or limit options.

Jacobson said there was already evidence that increased food regulation was paying off.Just two years ago Harvard University medical school researchers estimated that artificial trans fats — from partially hydrogenated oil — caused 72,000 to 228,000 heart attacks annually in the United States.Jacobson said that number was already dropping as cities and states started to ban trans fats and restaurants and food producers moved to remove them from their offerings.In July, California became the first state to require restaurants to cook without trans fats. The law requires restaurants to use oils, margarines and shortening with less than half a gram of trans fats per serving by Jan. 1, 2010, and applies the standard to deep-fried bakery goods by Jan. 1, 2011.Menu labeling is another trend. Some health advocates believe that if people see the amount of calories, fat and salt in meals before they order them, they gravitate to more healthful selections.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation in September requiring chain restaurants in California to display calorie counts with each menu item. It was the first state law of its kind in the nation but won the support of the California Restaurant Assn. because it standardized requirements and preempted local ordinances in Santa Clara and San Francisco.The new law applies to restaurants with 20 or more locations in California, about 17,000 eateries. Beginning July 1, they must provide brochures with the number of calories and grams of saturated fat for each item. Starting Jan. 1, 2011, all menus and menu boards will have to include the number of calories for each item.Other cities have different approaches. New York requires the posting of calories, whereas Seattle requires listing calories, sodium, saturated fat and carbohydrates.Although many cities and states like the local autonomy, the National Restaurant Assn. is pushing federal legislation that would end local rules and increase flexibility, said Dawn Sweeney, CEO of the group.[email protected]

I Love Love Nuts!

Nutty facts on nuts
—Emily Nunn
December 17, 2008
Almonds: All of the U.S. commercial almond crop is grown in California, and it supplies almost 80 percent of the world market. Long recognized for its delicate flavor, pleasant texture and healthfulness (one ounce has almost 35 percent of the daily value for vitamin E), the almond (which is actually a fruit related to the plum), was known as a commodity on the Silk Road, according to the Almond Board; the trees were brought to California in the 1700s by Franciscan padres, who planted the trees at missions along the coastline’s El Camino Real.

Cashew: There’s a reason you’ve probably never seen a cashew still in its shell. Cashews, native to Brazil, grow opposite the stem end of the cashew apple, which is a “false fruit”; actual fruit is what we know as the nut. Even more vexing, the “apple” rots quickly once it falls to the ground, still attached to the “nut,” which is in turn surrounded by a caustic substance similar to poison ivy, which is so strong it is sometimes used to burn off warts, according to The Oxford Companion to Food. But the nuts are so delicious!

Hazelnuts: Aka filberts and cobnuts, hazelnuts have grown wild since the days of primitive man and been cultivated since classical times in many parts of the world. It is the most distinctly flavored nut—”so individual that it cannot be described by reference to another,” according to the writer Waverley Root, who then goes a little daffy comparing their flavor to other foods (“the elusive aroma of some mushrooms”). In addition, according to the International Dried Fruit and Nut Foundation, the hazelnut is “present in the Greek-Roman Mythology and in the Bible, always mentioned for its extraordinary nutritional and healing values, even as a tool for finding buried treasures and subterranean streams of water.”

Peanut: Not a nut, strictly speaking, but a legume, peanuts have the most inspiring story in American history, thanks to the former slave and agricultural visionary George Washington Carver. In the early 1900s, he discovered more than 300 uses for what had previously been considered livestock feed. Two peanut farmers have been elected president: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
Pecan: Georgia is the country’s largest producer of pecans. They are the only tree nut native to America, and Thomas Jefferson was nuts for them, planting hundreds of trees (which are known to live hundreds, even thousands, of years); he probably never would have guessed that someday pecans would be “the first fresh food consumed on space flights by American astronauts. Apollo 13 (1970) and Apollo 14 (1971) crew members enjoyed fresh, raw pecan kernels from vacuum-packed plastic packages,” according to the Texas Pecan Board.

Pistachio: The seed of the Persian Pistacia vera tree, the pistachio is native to Asia Minor and has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. It was not until they were imported to the U.S., however, that someone got the hot idea of dying them bright red. According to John Mariani’s “Dictionary of Food and Drink,” that tradition is said to have started at the hands of a Brooklyn street vender named Zaloom, who wanted to make his pale brown nuts stand out.

Walnut: The provenance of the walnut is largely unknown—some say it’s from what was known as Persia, and the California walnut is actually a Persian walnut. But according to the California Walnut Board, walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, dating back to the year 7000 B.C. They’re most famous for packing the most alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid, than any other nut in the nutbowl and they protect your heart, so who cares about where they’re from? Fun fact: Walnuts are not picked; they are removed from trees by a mechanical shaker.

Would an Obesity Tax Curb Calorie-Filled Drinks?

By Jennifer 8. Lee AND Sewell Chan

An “obesity tax” of about 15 percent on non-diet drinks is among the taxes and fees ina $4 billion tax plan that Gov. David A. Paterson plans to introduce on Tuesday to close the now $15 billion budget deficit.

As The Daily News notes, the so-called obesity tax would generate an estimated $404 million a year. Milk, juice, diet soda and bottled water would be exempt from the tax. This means a Diet Coke might sell for a $1 – even as the same size bottle of its calorie-rich alter ego could sell for $1.15.

Food For Thought – How to WANT to Eat the Healthier Snacks

Research from Cornell University found that you’re 2.7 times more likely to eat healthier if you place nutritious items on the middle shelf of your refrigerator than if the good stuff is tucked away. To add to this finding; move the CLEAR cookie jar that is screaming your name out of sight. Just an idea!
Have a healthy and fit day!