Bananas get a bad rap but deserve respect

Even though grocery stores sell more bananas than any other fruit, (my son told me that when working in the produce department of Loblaws years ago) the jury is out on whether they are good for you or not.  Some believe their high starch and (natural) sugar (fructose) content should be avoided when watching your weight.  Others believe their high potassium and fiber levels as well as good protein content are all good for our muscles and energy levels before and after a workout.  The potassium also helps regulate blood pressure levels. So, who is right?  Both, it just depends on your goals.

For example, if I am trying to lose a few pounds I avoid bananas, relying on healthy food choices with less starch and sugar levels. That’s because this sugar and starch causes a rise in insulin levels which in turn results in fat storage.  Not good if you are battling those dreaded love handles or sporting a not so flat stomach.  My diet motto however is “moderation is key.”  I believe if you totally restrict things you like, you will tend to crave them more.

Bananas are very convenient for providing a quick energy boost and light snack.  They do not require refrigeration and transport easily.  In fact, I resort to one often when working in my gardens because I can easily peel one without touching the edible portion with my not so clean fingers.  They also provide creaminess in my morning smoothies and make an excellent substitution for unhealthy fats in baked goods.  I also found them effective at reducing morning sickness way back when. But only if almost green, the over ripe ones made me gag.

Bananas are also particularly effective after a bout of the intestinal spasms and diarrhea experienced when I eat something I am sensitive to.  That is because bananas represent the B in the BRAT diet (with rice, apple sauce and toast) I learned about when my kids were young.  All bland foods, these four staples were recommended to get their system back to normal after flu symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.  For the same reason, bananas are reportedly good for curing hangovers.

In my humble opinion, bananas get a bad rap, with the pros far outweighing the cons.  For that reason, there is always a bunch of bananas on my kitchen counter.  Not to mention my grandchildren love them.

bananas

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Culinary World Cup 2018 in Luxembourg

On his blog, Michael Hauschild describes the  Road to Luxembourg, AKA his culinary journey, to represent Canada abroad.   Passionate about all things culinary, his training has been particularly intense since he was selected a year ago to compete on Canada’s Youth Culinary Team in Luxembourg later this month.

In Canada (and many other countries too) we are all aware of a World Cup for hockey, skiing, curling and many other sports.  I’d be willing to bet though that most people, myself included, are probably not aware of a World Cup competition for culinary skills. If you aren’t or even if you already were, check out the team’s Facebook page for more details.

I heard about this event from Michael’s (very proud) grandmother, one of my gardening clients, whom I also know from my days as a hockey manager.  Michael, you see, is one of my son’s hockey teammates that nicknamed me Lorieb many years ago.  Obviously his biological family is very proud of him as is his (very large) hockey family.

We and the rest of Canada are rooting for you Michael and your new team.  As Luxembourg’s primary language is French, I will end with Bonne Chance!

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Avocado Every Day keeps the Doctor away

Move over apples, the new health axiom is “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away.”

avocado
pictures courtesy of Pexels

Even though a medium sized avocado adds around 250 calories to your daily intake and 24 grams of fat, the fat is predominantly the “good for your heart” monounsaturated variety.  Avocados also lower our “bad cholesterol” or LDL (low density lipoproteins) because they contain high amounts of plant based phytosterols.

avocado

Start by incorporating avocadoes into your daily meals.  Chopped, pureed, or mashed, use your imagination to try avocados for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Just be careful what you eat them with (skip the chips).  Keeping in mind that a healthy allotment of fat is 65 grams within a daily diet of 2000 calories, simply replace the fats you have been eating for years with avocado.  Eliminate the “not so good for you” fats  like margarine or butter, peanut butter, oils, and mayonnaise.  As well as the heart healthy fat, you will be adding vitamins, minerals and fiber with this substitution.

 

Why do eggs bother my stomach sometimes but not all the time?

eggs

In addition to wheat, asparagus and cream (high fat), eggs bother my stomach, suggesting I am intolerant of them.  But only sometimes.  I have tried to figure out if it is the way they are cooked (over easy, omelets, scrambled etc), or what they are cooked in (butter, olive oil etc) but have not come up with a definitive answer.  Because I am intolerant of wheat, I have even wondered if I am reacting to eggs from grain fed chickens.

I have done some research to see if I could find the answer; here are a few suggestions I came across:

  • don’t eat eggs on an empty stomach
  • eat other things with the eggs like toast, home fries etc
  • cook them well (over easy used to be my favourite)
  • drink something carbonated with them
  • don’t cook them in butter

I have not tried the carbonated trick yet, but carbonation is not my friend either so I probably won’t.  My last attempt at consuming eggs was in an omelette, with just a bit of olive oil to coat the pan, but a few hours later the omelette went right through me with accompanying stomach cramps and diarrhea.

I ate it by itself though, with no toast on the side, and on an empty stomach, so I may have my answer.

Anyone else have this problem?

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What is a Paleo diet and how it can help you

Paleo diet

Many specific diets have come and gone in popularity over the years.  We have had the Atkins, Nutrisystem, Bernstein, Zone, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean, South Beach, Raw Foods diets and more.  Some are long gone, others still around.  The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic, (think cave man era) is based on what our ancestors supposedly foraged for and lived on centuries ago.  I say supposedly because which one of us was around to confirm the info?

It is not that difficult to realize that all the additives, preservatives and other highly processed and or hydrogenated ingredients were not around back then.  The Paleo diet urges people to eliminate such items from their meal plans.  That includes salt sugar and artificial sweeteners, iodized (table) salt,  omega six oils (unrefined, organic coconut, olive, flaxseed, and avocado are allowed because they are omega 3s), dairy (except butter and ghee which are allowed.)

Beans and legumes (with the exception of green beans and snow peas) are not allowed on a Paleo diet either because they are (for most people) hard to digest.  The same applies to starchy vegetables like white potatoes (sweet ones are allowed in moderation) corn and squash, as well as all (even gluten-free) grains. Grains are taboo because of the lectins they contain that trigger allergic and autoimmune responses as well as leaky gut syndrome.

Paleo diet

Meats allowed on the Paleo diet are grass fed, pasture raised and organic. Fish choices should be wild or farmed under responsible conditions.  Eggs should be free range. Most nuts (except peanuts because they are legumes not nuts) and seeds are allowed too.

This diet is supposed to prevent and eliminate immune responses and many disease states, including cancer.  I must admit, other than eliminating dairy (cheese is a personal weakness) beans and gluten free grains like brown rice and quinoa (actually not a grain, but included in that category) my current choice of diet follows these Paleo choices very closely.  These choices came from figuring out (over many years) what works (and doesn’t work) for my body.  Go figure, here I thought I was unique!

 

Hearty and healthy home made soup recipes

I would love to share my recipes for home made soup.  If I had any.  I used to make soup for my mother in law years ago.  Her only complaint was that I could never produce a recipe for the different varieties. I was just reminded of this dilemma when my daughter in law asked for the recipe for my last batch of home made soup.

Since I was diagnosed with a sensitivity to wheat, I put much more emphasis on ensuring the ingredients I use for my soups (and any other cooking and baking) are completely natural and healthy.  No preservatives or artificial ingredients are allowed in these recipes. This is also particularly important if you are sharing your soup with friends or family undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Most of my soups are meat based, but you could make them to your specific dietary needs or preferences.  Here are a few tips.

  • store large bones from chicken and turkey dinners in ziplock bag in your freezer
  • also store pan drippings and liquid from vegetables in the freezer.  I use a plastic bucket for this purpose and just keep adding to the contents. Don’t be afraid to mix the different meats and vegetables , the mixture adds unique flavor to your soups. As soon as your contributions cool off, the fat will rise to the top and create a layer.  You should scrape of this layer (it comes off easily) before you add another one.
  • On soup making day, place the bones in a large pot, fill the pot with water and simmer for several hours.
  • Add garlic cloves, a chuck of ginger root and or turmeric (the stuff curry powder comes from), bay leaves or any other seasonings large enough to remove easily.  You can use powdered forms at a later stage if you don’t have the fresh stuff handy.  I have also added broccoli stalks (frozen, stored in freezer like the broths) at this stage.
  • After a few hours, remove the bones and seasonings, set aside to cool.
  • Next add frozen chunks of broth you have stored in the freezer.  You now have your base.
  • When your bones have cooled, pick off any meat from them and add them to the pot. Crush any softened garlic, ginger, adding to the pot.  Discard bay leaves if used. Puree  or chop broccoli stalks if used.  If you are using powdered spices like ginger, garlic, curry powder etc, add it now.
  • This is the time to add rice, quinoa or barley for added nutrients and chunkiness.
  • Add vegetables and or legumes.  Cherry or grape tomatoes, beans, frozen corn are my favourites.  When using beans, I do use canned, but the “no salt added” kind.  I rinse them really well before adding to the soup.
  • If you prefer creamy as opposed to chunky soups, you could puree everything at this stage.
  • Add salt (I use pink Himalayan) and or pepper to taste.
  • Add milk (I use almond milk) if your soup is too chunky or thick.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your variations. I prefer the hearty, chunky varieties with lots of ingredients, but others prefer simple broths.  I also like lots of garlic and ginger, but reduced these ingredients in my last batch so I could share some with my breastfeeding daughter in law.

If you like to record your recipes (and you might if you share your concoctions) write down what you have added.  For some reason, I never think to do so.

Bulletproof coffee

What is bulletproof coffee?  It is a new trend or fad, but not necessarily a healthy one. The biggest reason it is not healthy is because people are replacing a more nutritional breakfast with this coffee.  This coffee contains what is called empty calories because they contain little nutritional value.

Bulletproof coffee is made by adding 1 tablespoon of butter, preferably grass-fed and unsalted, as well as one tablespoon of MCT oil to one cup of coffee.  MCTs, by the way, are medium chain triglycerated fats like coconut oil.

Saturated fats are becoming more popular lately than their “fake” over processed cousins.  The fats in this coffee recipe supress hunger so avoiding breakfast is possible.  They also raise ketone levels in the bloodstream which supplies the brain with energy providing fuel.  The problem becomes when one third (assuming you eat three meals per day) of your daily nutrition is eliminated.

 

bulletproof coffee

 

The solution would be to have a bulletproof coffee in addition to your nutritional meals.  That is if you can afford the extra calories in your diet.

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Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
and
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u.ca

Another food intolerance

I have discovered another food intolerance, the hard way.  I have known for a while that many artificial flavors and ingredients in food items trigger bad reactions in my gastrointestinal system.  This past weekend I narrowed a particularly bad bout of stomach cramps and diarrhea down to the ingestion of red food color.

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I know it had to be the food coloring because I was very careful what I ate that day.  I hosted a baby shower for my daughter-in-law and prepared most of the food myself.  As I and a few other guests are wheat or gluten intolerant I made sure there were plenty of gluten free choices on the table.  I made my favourite gluten free biscotti, but to fancy them up for the occasion, I dipped them in white chocolate that I had tinted pink.  A few drops of red food color in the melted white chocolate resulted in a pretty pink color, perfect for the baby shower menu.  Unfortunately for me, those few drops of red food color did me in.  Because I had several of the biscotti (did I mention they are my favourite?) throughout the day, my allergic symptoms lasted much longer than they usually do.

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I don’t know which of the ingredients in the red food color (apparently red dye #40 is a common culprit)  I reacted to, but I will be avoiding any food tinted red (or pink) from now on!

 

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating today

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family celebrating today…

 

happy thanksgiving

If only we could set our scales back 10 pounds on Thanksgiving or any other holiday we spend with friends, family and lots (too much) of delicious food and drink.

 

On a more serious note, be sure to be thankful for what you are celebrating!

happy thanksgiving

Like this sign says, be kind, be thoughtful, be genuine, but most of all be thankful!

You know summer is over when…

You know the summer is over when your favourite french fry stop closes down for the season.  Ours is Fitz’s in Lanark, Ontario on the way to our cottage on Palmerston Lake…

 

Fitz’s has an extensive take-out menu, but our order is always the same; sweet potato fries for me, and regular fries for hubby…hot (greasy) and crispy. Yum!

 

 Today was Fitz’s last day of the season, a sign that summer is over and winter is on its way.