Tuesday, November 26, 2013

8 Healthy School Lunch Superfoods for Kids

It's not always easy to pack healthy school lunches for kids. 
Try these tricks to get superfoods in at lunchtime.



Carrots are the No. 1 kid-friendly source of vitamin A and beta carotene, two essential nutrients for strong vision in the classroom, strong bones on the playground and a strong immune system for the crowded school bus. Carrots are also a top source of lycopene, a disease-fighting phytonutrient. 
And kids will often eat carrots plain and raw. Cut them into kid-friendly spears, or get creative with the cutting board to keep them enticing.
Be aware, however, that carrots have made the list of dirty dozen foods high in pesticide residue, and childhood exposure to pesticide residue has been recently been linked to attention deficit disorders, among other potential health problems. (You can find the complete list of dirty dozen foods by googling Dirty Dozen.) Buy organic carrots to avoid pesticide residue - and they taste like they did when we were kids!


For a shot of calcium at lunch, nothing beats yogurt, and plain yogurt is also a top source of potassium, a key nutrient for young hearts, muscles and bones? The problem is finding a way to dress yogurt up for a kid-friendly lunch, particularly if you're avoiding the many yogurts on the market that are overloaded with extra sugars.
One great strategy is to send your kid to school not only with yogurt, but with some of her favorite whole grain cereals and chopped fresh fruits. 
Because dairy products retain unwanted chemicals and antibiotics to which cows were exposed, you may want to choose organic yogurt. The GREEK yogurts provide the most nutrients and the least sugars. Also, look for yogurt packaged in containers that are BPA-free (avoid plastics marked with recycling codes 3 and 7).

trail mix

Trail Mix
Trail mix comes in all forms. The trick is to find a mix that is both healthy and kid-friendly. Experiment to find the right balance for your kid, as this can be a great source of healthy superfoods, like sunflower seeds (the top source of vitamin E), pumpkin seeds (a top source of iron), nuts (a top source of vitamin E and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids) and raisins (a top source of potassium). 
Be careful to buy RAW nuts vs those that have been roasted in too much oil. And be aware that grapes and raisins are on the list of dirty dozen foods likely to have high pesticide residue levels, so buy organic to avoid exposing your kid to potentially harmful chemicals. And do check for sugar - sometimes Trail Mixes include vast amounts of sugar on top of the fructose in the dried fruits.

Red Peppers

Vitamin C is a powerful ally for kids trying to ward off or recover from colds. But did you know that kiwis have as much vitamin C as oranges and that red sweet peppers have twice as much of the disease-fighting nutrient? (The guava has even more vitamin C, but isn't the easiest fruit to pack in a lunch, though it can be used in a delicious Hawaiian breakfast smoothie.)  Swap out oranges for a kiwi or red pepper every so often for variety, and a splash of color.
Be aware that bell peppers have been on the list of dirty dozen foods likely to have high pesticide residue levels, so buy organic to avoid exposing your kid to potentially harmful chemicals.

Sweet Potato

The humble sweet potato is an inexpensive, nutrient-dense food - and the No. 1 source of potassium (it has way more than bananas) as well as a top source of vitamin A and beta carotene, making it a superfood for the heart, skeleton, muscles, eyes, immune system and bones. The problem is getting kids to eat sweet potatoes, particularly in a cold lunch.
At home, you might try a simple sweet potato mash with a dab of butter - or baked sweet potato fries. For the brown bag lunch, try baked sweet potato chips for a kid-friendly snack.



What kid would want to eat chickpeas at lunchtime? What parent wouldn't want to serve an inexpensive, low-fat food that's a top source of vitamin B6, a nutrient that supports the immune system, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and fight disease? There's only one chance of satisfying both constituents: hummus.
Hummus can be easily made at home in a variety of ways, with different additions (try orange and lemon) to make it more palatable to a child's tastes. It may take some experimentation, along with the right cracker or veggies to scoop up all the nutrient-dense goodness, but it will be worth the effort.

Dark, Leafy Greens

Getting kids to eat dark, leafy greens is about as easy as telling someone born in the 21st century who Popeye and Olive Oyl were. Beyond trying different leafy greens as a garnish to a sandwich (and let's be honest, kids know how to remove the garnish before taking their first bite) — you can send them off with some kale chips. Kale is a top source of vitamin K, which is only available from leafy greens, and helps the body repair itself from skinned knees, sprained ankles and other common playground injuries. It's also a top source of beta carotene and vitamin A. Kale chips are a crisp delivery system that might just work.
Be aware, however, that kale has been on the list of dirty dozen foods likely to have high pesticide residue levels, so buy organic to avoid exposing your kid to potentially harmful chemicals.


Tomatoes provide powerful nutrition, with among the biggest doses per serving of the disease-fighting antioxidants vitamin E and lycopene. But even if the USDA famously considers ketchup a vegetable in school lunches (we do not, since there's as much corn syrup as tomato in the typical off-the-shelf ketchup), you may struggle to include tomatoes in school lunches.
Try fresh cherry tomatoes; they offer a sweet multicolored burst kids love, and can be easily packed to avoid bruising. If that fails, there's always the old tomato-based standby: salsa. It's as easy to make salsa as it is to chop a few ingredients, experiment to find a fresh salsa recipe that your child enjoys, and pack it with some whole grain crackers for a nutritious snack. Finally, you can sneak some tomato on your kid's sandwich (turkey is a top source of both vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, and tastes great with a fresh tomato slice).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Are you still burning calories post workout?

(Photo: Facebook/Sports Club/LA)

Most workout enthusiasts have heard that after they finish their 60-minute boot camp, their bodies will continue to burn additional calories for hours afterward (as compared to the regular rate of daily calorie burn happening whether or not you exercise).  The phenomenon is commonly referred to as “afterburn" - it’s a nice incentive for feeling proud that you got your butt out of bed and prioritized working out.
But why is your body burning excess calories if you’re not breaking a sweat? And what kinds of workouts deliver the greatest afterburn? There are differing opinions, and the research isn't set in stone. Sorting through the evidence, here a few things you should know:
Your oxygen debt
One piece of the puzzle is EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which literally just means your body is taking in more oxygen. It needs the oxygen so it can restore your body to balance after the demands you just put it through, via processes like hormone balancing and cellular repair.
It’s about muscle
But where the real magic takes place is in your muscles. When you do any sort of resistance training—from lifting giant barbells to push-ups—your muscle fibers are placed under stress and retain tiny tears. Once the muscle fibers have been torn, even though it’s very small tears, those small tears and structures are being repaired by your body after you finish. That reparation process is where the calories are being burned. In other words, your super-smart body is doing its own workout on a cellular level, fixing up the damage you did, and it requires energy for that. Not to mention the fact that when you build muscle, you’re creating more metabolically-active muscle cells, which leads to more calorie burn 24-7. 
Which workouts stimulate afterburn?
Since muscle repair is playing such a big role, resistance training that puts stress on the muscles is your best bet. Incorporating resistance training into a High Intensity Interval Training format is often touted as the most afterburn-promoting workout. And while there is evidence to support that, there are also lots of experts who say its effectiveness is overblown.
The real key is doing something that is uber intense for your body. Put your body in a position that it’s not accustomed to. So if you’re lifting weights, you’ve got to go heavier than you normally would. If you can barely do a pull-up, doing a bunch may be effective; if you can knock out 50 like gravy, add some weight. And get moving. 
~Thanks Lisa Elaine Held

Friday, November 22, 2013

The 411 on Protein Powders

coffee_smoothie1. Match your protein to your goal
Protein powders vary, so determining why you want to use one is an important first step. Are you looking to gain muscle? Do you want to "get lean"? Is this for recovery from a workout? Do you need to supplement your diet because you are lacking in food sources of protein?

If it's for muscle gain and recovery, choose a higher calorie powder that includes a carbohydrate source. If you're looking to lose or manage weight, a complete protein with fewer calories is better. Whey is are ideal for muscle gain and getting lean, as well as for great for recovery. Whey is quickly and easily digested - for those who ARE NOT lactose intolerant! For overall health, even if you're not lactose intolerant, try alternating between a dairy-based and a plant-based protein powder option.

raw protein2. Make sure it's complete
The basis for evaluating protein is: how good is the amino acid score? Does it have all amino acids and are they in significant amounts? A complete protein contains all essential amino acids, which you can get from a single source or by combining multiple. If you're okay with dairy, whey will fulfill this. I do not recommend casein, ever. Casein has been shown to promote the growth of cancer cells in some animal studies, and is at the very least, not easy to digest.

For vegetarians, soy and hemp are often considered complete, but choose a blend, which may include pea, brown rice, and hemp. Even better, choose a brand, like Garden of Life, that includes a blend of sprouted protein sources. When you sprout it, the amino acid profile improves and it's more digestible. Also, if using soy, be sure it is non-GMO as more than 90% of the soy grown in this country is genetically modified and 
pesticide-soaked. Non-organic soy also tends to be heavily processed, which your body won't like; super-processed soy is not really digestible.

Source Organic Whey3. Evaluate the ingredient quality
Like most manufactured foods, protein powders are not created equal. Organic can be the way to go. Since whey comes from milk, the same concerns that apply to non-organic dairy apply, like pesticide residue, added hormones, and the cow's GMO-corn diet.  Source Organic Whey is from grass-fed cows.

4. Watch for additives and fillers
You don't want high fructose corn syrup in your bread or parabens in your body lotion, so don't settle for less-than-pure powders! Go for protein powder brands that list as few ingredients as possible and don't add a ton of sugar or bad-for-you sugar substitutes like sucralose and aspartame.

Companies also tend to add lots of extra "boosters" for body-building types, many of which you probably don't need. For example, if you're hoping to get lean, you may not want creatine, taurine, and added glycine.

Supercharged-Green-Protein-Smoothie-04-510x3405. Consider your dietary restrictions
Avoiding whey and casein if you're a vegetarian or vegan is obvious, but there are a few other things to consider. If you're lactose intolerant but are partial to whey, choose a powder made with whey protein isolate rather than whey protein concentrate. The isolate version is further refined and usually does not have enough lactose left to affect those with issues.  Start with a sample size, and then pay attention to your body's reaction.

~Thanks to Well + Good

Saturday, November 16, 2013

9 Foods With More Sugar Than a Doughnut

While you may consider yourself savvy when it comes to spotting sugary foods, the report revealed some real sugar shockers. 
The following nine foods all have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut (which, for comparison, contains 10 grams of sugar):
  1. Luna bar: 11 grams of sugar
  2. Grande Starbucks latte: 17 grams
  3. Subway 6" sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich: 17 grams
  4. Tropicana orange juice, 8 ounces: 22 grams
  5. Yoplait original yogurt: 27 grams
  6. Vitamin Water, 20 ounces: 33 grams
  7. Sprinkles red velvet cupcake: 45 grams
  8. California Pizza Kitchen Thai chicken salad: 45 grams
  9. Odwalla superfood smoothie, 12 ounces: 50 grams

~excerpted from Dr. Mercola 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

10 American Foods that are Banned in Other Countries

Americans are beginning to wake up to the fact that much of the food sold in the US is far inferior to the same foods sold in other nations. In fact, many of the foods you eat have been banned elsewhere.
Seeing how the overall health of Americans is lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic foods such as these might play a role in our disease rates.



#1: Farm-Raised Salmon

If you want to maximize health benefits from fish, steer clear of farmed fish, particularly farmed salmon fed dangerous chemicals. Wild salmon gets its bright pinkish-red color from natural carotenoids in their diet. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are raised on a wholly unnatural diet of grains (including genetically engineered varieties), plus antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals not shown to be safe for humans.  This diet leaves the fish with a grayish flesh. To compensate they're fed synthetic astaxanthin made from petrochemicals not approved for human consumption and has well-known toxicities.
Where it’s banned: Australia and New Zealand
How can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised? The flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red. It’s also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.
Avoid Atlantic salmon - typically, salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” comes from fish farms. The two designations to look for are: “Alaskan salmon,” and “sockeye salmon,” as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed. Do realize that the vast majority of all salmon sold in restaurants is farm raised.
Canned salmon labeled “Alaskan Salmon” is a good bet, and if you find sockeye salmon, it’s bound to be wild. You can tell sockeye salmon from other salmon by its color: its flesh is bright red opposed to pink, due to its superior astaxanthin content. Sockeye salmon actually has one of the highest concentrations of astaxanthin of any food.

#2: Genetically Engineered Papaya

Most Hawaiian papaya is now genetically engineered to be resistant to ringspot virus. Mounting research now shows that animals fed genetically engineered foods, such as corn and soy, suffer a wide range of maladies, including intestinal damage, tumors, birth defects, premature death, and near complete sterility by the third generation of offspring. Unfortunately, the gigantic human lab experiment is only about 10 years old, so we are likely decades away from tabulating the human casualties.
Where it’s banned: The European Union
Our administration has placed former Monsanto attorney and Vice President, Michael Taylor, in charge of US food safety, and serious conflicts of interest even reign within the US Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas is also a former Monsanto attorney and does not acknowledge a conflict of interest.

#3: Ractopamine-Tainted Meat

The beta agonist drug ractopamine (a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis) was recruited for livestock use when researchers found that the drug made mice more muscular. This reduces the overall fat content of the meat. Ractopamine is currently used in about 45% of US pigs, 30% of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter. Up to 20% of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket, according to veterinarian Michael W. Fox.
Where it’s banned: 160 countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan)
Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have been “poisoned” from eating pigs fed the drug. Effective February 11, 2013, Russia issued a ban on US meat imports, slated to last until the US agrees to certify that the meat is ractopamine-free. At present, the US does not even test for the presence of this drug in meats sold. In animals, ractopamine is linked to reductions in reproductive function, increase of mastitis in dairy herds, and increased death and disability. It’s also known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and is thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, and may cause chromosomal abnormalities and behavioral changes.
Read about the benefits of grass-fed beef compared to standard feed lot beef.

#4: Flame Retardant Drinks

If you live in the US and drink Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored sodas and sports drinks, then you are also getting a dose of a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. 
BVO has been shown to bioaccumulate in human tissue and breast milk, and animal studies have found it causes reproductive and behavioral problems in large doses. Bromine is a central nervous system depressant, and a common endocrine disruptor. It’s part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine and iodine. When ingested, bromine competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. This can lead to iodine deficiency, which can have a very detrimental impact on your health. Bromine toxicity can manifest as skin rashes, acne, loss of appetite, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Where it’s banned: Europe and Japan
According to the featured article:
“The FDA has flip-flopped on BVO’s safety originally classifying it as ‘generally recognized as safe’ but reversing that call now defining it as an ‘interim food additive’ a category reserved for possibly questionable substances used in food.”

#5: Processed Foods Containing Artificial Food Colors and Dyes

 More than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — are added to US foods, including infant foods and foods targeted to young children. Many of these are banned in other countries, based on research showing toxicity and hazardous health effects, especially with respect to adverse effects on children’s behavior. For example, as reported in the featured article:
“Boxed Mac & Cheese, cheddar flavored crackers, Jell-O and many kids’ cereals contain red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6 and/or blue 2, the most popularly-used dyes in the United States. Research has shown this rainbow of additives can cause behavioral problems as well as cancer, birth defects and other health problems in laboratory animals. Red 40 and yellow 6 are also suspected of causing an allergy-like hypersensitivity reaction in children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that some dyes are also “contaminated with known carcinogens.”
Where banned: Norway and Austria. In 2009, the British government advised companies to stop using food dyes by the end of that year. The European Union also requires a warning notice on most foods containing dyes.
In countries where these food colors and dyes are banned, food companies like Kraft employ natural colorants instead, such as paprika extract, beetroot, and annatto. 

#6: Arsenic-Laced Chicken

Arsenic-based drugs are approved for use in animal feed in the US because they make animals grow quicker and make the meat appear pinker (i.e. “fresher”). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated these products are safe because they contain organic arsenic, which is less toxic than the other inorganic form, which is a known carcinogen.
Where it’s banned: The European Union
Scientific reports have surfaced stating that the organic arsenic could transform into inorganic arsenic, which has been found in elevated levels in supermarket chickens. The inorganic arsenic also contaminates manure where it can eventually migrate into drinking water and may also be causing heightened arsenic levels in US rice.
In 2011, Pfizer announced it would voluntarily stop marketing its arsenic-based feed additive Roxarsone, but there are still several others on the market. Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the FDA calling for their removal from the market. In the European Union, meanwhile, arsenic-based compounds have never been approved as safe for animal feed.

#7: Bread with Potassium Bromate

Nearly every time you eat bread in a restaurant or consume a hamburger or hotdog bun you are consuming bromide, as it is commonly used in flours. The use of potassium bromate as an additive to commercial breads and baked goods has been a huge contributor to bromide overload in Western cultures.
Where it’s banned: Canada, China and the EU
Bromated flour is “enriched” with potassium bromate. Commercial baking companies claim it makes the dough more elastic and better able to stand up to bread hooks. Yet, Pepperidge Farm and other successful companies manage to use only unbromated flour without any of these “structural problems.” Studies have linked potassium bromate to kidney and nervous system damage, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, and cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies potassium bromate as a possible carcinogen.

#8: Olestra/Olean

Olestra, created by Procter & Gamble, is a calorie- and cholesterol-free fat substitute used in fat-free snacks like chips and French fries. Three years ago, Time Magazine named it one of the worst 50 inventions ever, but that hasn’t stopped food companies from using it to satisfy people’s mistaken belief that a fat-free snack is a healthier snack. According to the featured article:
“Not only did a 2011 study from Purdue University conclude rats fed potato chips made with Olean gained weight, there have been several reports of adverse intestinal reactions to the fake fat including diarrhea, cramps and leaky bowels. And because it interferes with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, the FDA requires these vitamins be added to any product made with Olean or olestra.”
Where it’s banned: The UK and Canada
#9: Preservatives BHA and BHT 
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are commonly used preservatives that can be found in breakfast cereal, nut mixes, chewing gum, butter spread, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer, just to name a few. BHA is known to cause cancer in rats, and may be a cancer-causing agent in humans as well. In fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Toxicology Program’s 2011 Report on Carcinogens, BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It may also trigger allergic reactions and hyperactivity, while BHT can cause organ system toxicity.
Where it’s banned: The UK doesn’t allow BHA in infant foods. BHA and BHT are also banned in parts of the European Union and Japan.

#10: Milk and Dairy Products Laced with rBGH

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is the largest selling dairy animal drug in America. RBGH is a synthetic version of natural bovine somatotropin (BST), a hormone produced in cows’ pituitary glands. Monsanto developed the recombinant version from genetically engineered E. coli bacteria and markets it under the brand name “Posilac.”
It’s injected into cows to increase milk production, but it is banned in at least 30 other nations because of its dangers to human health, which include an increased risk for colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer by promoting conversion of normal tissue cells into cancerous ones. Non-organic dairy farms frequently have rBGH-injected cows that suffer at least 16 different adverse health conditions, including very high rates of mastitis that contaminate milk with pus and antibiotics.
Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Israel, EU and Canada
“According to the American Cancer Society, the increased use of antibiotics to treat this type of rBGH-induced inflammation ‘does promote the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but the extent to which these are transmitted to humans is unclear,’” the featured article states.
Many have tried to inform the public of the risks of using this hormone in dairy cows, but their attempts have been met with overwhelming opposition by the powerful dairy and pharmaceutical industries, and their government liaisons. In 1997, two Fox-affiliate investigative journalists, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, attempted to air a program exposing the truth about the dangers of rBGH. Lawyers for Monsanto, a major advertiser with the Florida network, sent letters promising “dire consequences” if the story aired.
Despite decades of evidence about the dangers of rBGH, the FDA still maintains it’s safe for human consumption and ignores scientific evidence to the contrary. In 1999, the United Nations Safety Agency ruled unanimously not to endorse or set safety standards for rBGH milk, which has effectively resulted in an international ban on US milk. The Cancer Prevention Coalition, trying for years to get the use of rBGH by the dairy industry banned, resubmitted a petition to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, in January 2010. Although the FDA stubbornly sticks to its position that milk from rBGH-treated cows is no different than milk from untreated cows, this is just plain false and is not supported by science. The only way to avoid rBGH is to look for products labeled as “rBGH-free” or “No rBGH.”
~Thanks to Dr. Mercola

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What to do with Oatmeal?

More Than Just Food

The healthiest type of oatmeal is made from whole-grain, steel-cut oats, also known as coarse-cut or Irish oats, because they retain more of the nutritious (though tough) bran layer. The more common "rolled oats" are steamed, flattened and lightly toasted. "Instant" oatmeal is pre-cooked and usually has sweeteners and flavors added. You're definitely better off buying unsweetened, and adding a touch of honey, maple syrup or fruits.
Oats are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamine, iron, beta-glucan (which may help regulate blood sugar) and the antioxidants known as avenanthramides (which may help promote healthy circulation). Oatmeal is also believed to help reduce harmful cholesterol levels and it may boost the immune system.
But what happens when you have too much of a good thing, or you just don't get around to eating it and your oatmeal gets old and stale in your cupboard? Don't throw it out! It has many great uses besides filling up your family.
woman's face

Treat Acne

Many people swear by oatmeal as a natural remedy to acne. One easy recipe is to cook up some of the stuff, let cool until lukewarm, then apply to the affected areas. Let stand for several minutes, then rinse.
Some people prefer to use oatmeal-based scrubs. Others bathe with "colloidal oatmeal," which is made by mixing oatmeal that has been ground into a very fine powder in water.

Neutralize Odors 

Few realize that oatmeal can help absorb odors. Try placing an open container of the stuff in your fridge. Some people use oatmeal to line ashtrays, and claim the flakes help neutralize the smell of smoke.

Soothe dry or irritated skin 

Oatmeal can promote healthy, beautiful skin - and provide soothing relief from sunburn, poison ivy or other irritations, and heal open pores. Many moisturizers and beauty products contain oatmeal, sometimes ground up and sometimes in flake form.

Pamper Yourself in the Tub

A soothing way to unwind at the end of a long day is to take a bath with oatmeal. While running a lukewarm bath, add one cup of milk, two cups of uncooked oatmeal and a tablespoon of honey. Soak for 10 to 20 minutes, and your skin will be moisturized and rejuvenated. How relaxing! Note that some folks like to use colloidal oatmeal for the task.

DIY Body Scrub

Make your own scrub by grinding two tablespoons of oatmeal into a grainy consistency in a blender or food processor. Add one teaspoon baking soda and very small amounts of water until the mixture has the consistency of paste. Spread that on your cleansed and dry face. Leave on for 10 minutes and gently remove with cool water.

Turn It into Modeling Clay

You can also turn old oatmeal into a nontoxic crafting "clay" that delights kids and gets their creative energies flowing. The Playdough-like clay stays moist for hours, but hardens overnight, making it good for sculpting figurines, bowls, beads and other goodies you can think of. Combine one cup of instant or rolled oats with flour and a little water. You can also add food coloring for a rainbow of possibilities.

Go Beyond Breakfast Cooking

Here's a tip: Replace regular flour with homemade oat flour (simply grind oats in a processor), and use that for baking pancakes and breads. You get twice the fiber, so you feel fuller, but fewer calories.
Oatmeal is well known for imparting a yummy heartiness to breads, cookies and some beers. But it also works great in crusts, for meats as well as cobblers, and is a binding agent.
~Thanks to Brian Clark Howard

Monday, November 4, 2013

Watch Out for These Inflammation-Causing Foods!

There's a five-alarm fire sounding these days about inflammation, and with good reason. Heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and acne are just some of the possible consequences of too much inflammation in the body.

According to Nicholas Perricone, M.D., the pioneering nutritionist and dermatologist (who wrote the book on anti-inflammation eating), our bodies actually depend on temporary inflammation to help fight off sudden injuries or infection. But when that inflammation becomes chronic, "the immune system mistakenly attacks normal cells, and the process that ordinarily heals becomes destructive."

Like so many health issues, the main culprit is too much sugar, which is why you've probably heard the sweet stuff singled out—as well as other well-known offenders, like dairy, booze, and trans-fat-filled fried foods. But inflammation can sneak up on you via lots of seemingly innocent foods. Here are six surprising sources you might want to approach with caution...

agave1. Agave
Despite its rep as a worry-free sweetener, agave is ultimately still full of sugar—with a fructose content of up to 90 percent. "Sugar suppresses the activity of our white blood cells, which makes us more susceptible to infectious disease (colds, the flu, and so forth) as well as cancer," explains Dr. Perricone. Plus, sugar overload can cause collagen fibers to lose their strength, making skin "more vulnerable to sun damage, wrinkles, and sagging," he adds.

Froyo2. Frozen yogurt
Froyo has two potential inflammatory culprits: sugar and dairy. Milk can boost insulin levels and male hormones, and it's a common allergen, which means it can trigger inflammatory reactions (anything from diarrhea to hives). But not all frozen yogurts are created equal. Some contain the milk protein casein, which may increase inflammation. Others contain specific probiotics that may actually reduce it. (And some frozen "yogurts" contain no dairy at all and use coconut milk.)

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 8.48.43 AM
 3. Barley and Rye
These healthy and delicious grains  don't cause the same sugar spike that refined carbs do, but they can spark inflammation in some people. Why? Gluten. If you're at all sensitive to it, and especially if you have Celiac disease, consuming barley or rye (in food or booze) can cause your tissues to flare up. Go easy on these grains, especially if you are already feeling ache-y or having joint pain—two possible indicators of inflammation.
Seitan4. Seitan
There's a reason why this veggie staple is known as "wheat meat": it's made entirely from wheat gluten. Protein, yay! But when it comes to inflammation, gluten can trigger the immune system, causing inflammation in the intestinal tract. And for some, that can mean IBS, constipation, and/or bloating.

Peanuts5. Peanuts
Like milk, peanuts are a common allergen—and allergies set off a broad inflammatory response in the body while it struggles to fight off the foreign agent. Peanuts are prone to molds and fungus, which can also result in inflammatory reactions. So you may want to pass on the peanuts, and instead opt for raw organic almonds or other tree nuts and butters.

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 12.04.52 PM6. Seasoning mixes
Short-cut seasoning mixes may add an easy flavor burst to black bean tacos and salad dressings, but  they usually contain artificial coloring (which can disrupt hormone function and lead to inflammation), and a big scoop of sugar. To get the same taste without all the bad stuff, she recommends a combo of cayenne pepper, sea salt, cracked pepper, and apple cider vinegar that you make yourself.  Try this homemade Taco seasoning: 

4 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

                                                                                                                             ~Thanks to Amanda Benchley

Amanda Benchley

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