nutrition

Controversy: to break the fast or not?

There’s some big news out in the land of nutrition today, folks. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), one of the staple academic journals used in my profession, has released a definitive article stating that there has never been concrete evidence to say that eating breakfast promotes weight loss. As you might imagine, the commentary from the public has been fiery, and reflects confusion, anger, bad science, and a downright “told-ya-so” attitude.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For my entire life, I’ve been taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I myself am a breakfast eater and am liable to faint if I don’t get something in my stomach first thing in the morning. In fact, I eat the exact same thing for breakfast every day: oatmeal with crunchy peanut butter and some coconut sugar. Bam, done, on to the rest of my day.

When I counseled patients during my rotations at hospitals and community clinics, though, I found that many of them couldn’t stand the thought of eating something in the morning. Even though it was hard for me to put myself in their shoes, I always respected what their body was telling them and simply encouraged them to try something small, or to eat within a couple hours of waking up.

What bothers me about this article is that it is framed by the goal of weight loss. Once again, the American people are spoon-fed the “ultimate goal” — to lose weight, look great, and forget about what’s going on inside your body. Because this article “proves” that eating breakfast isn’t necessary to drop pounds, it gives the public justification to skip breakfast, even though eating breakfast carries benefits that have nothing to do with your weight. For example, a cohort study of over 29,000 men followed for 16 years showed that those who skipped breakfast had a 21% greater risk than breakfast eaters of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Breakfast is also a great opportunity to help reach your daily fiber goal and keep your “bad” cholesterol in check, which is just another way of being nicer to your heart.

Again — I am an intuitive eater, and I respect others’ choices about what they want to eat, when they want to eat it. For me personally, eating breakfast means that my blood sugar remains stable throughout the day. It means that I have enough glucose in my body to start my day and focus on my tasks at hand. It means that I have enough fuel in my body to bike to work. I will still recommend a balanced breakfast to my patients, as they can tolerate it.

I think what would be more helpful to the public is not whether breakfast will help you to lose weight, but further studies on how it helps to regulate blood sugar and stave off chronic disease. I also wonder how Big Breakfast will respond to this news: will we see a major PR initiative promoting the protein content of bacon and eggs à la Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches? Readers, you already know my opinion on that, and I would encourage you to choose a breakfast that doesn’t come frozen out of a box.

I welcome your comments about this topic!

Advertisements

Snack Time: Kale Chips with a Kick

I know, I know–kale chips have been done. But I got a huge bunch from my local produce service, and figured it was time to spice things up a little bit around here…can you tell by the site’s new look? 🙂

KaleCard

Kale chips are super easy to make and take just about 20 minutes to crisp up in the oven. But I like them the best because they are a perfect reflection of your personality! I guess I was feeling spicy when I made these because I was pretty liberal with my chili powder and nutritional yeast. Talk about an afternoon pick-me-up!

IMG_0497

So go ahead and put your own spin on these! Minced garlic? Sriracha? A pinch of paprika? It’s your food, and you do what you want.

KaleCard copy

As I noted in the recipe card, it’s best to eat these as soon as you make them. Storing them is tricky and they tend to get a bit soggy in a container if you haven’t used a dehydrator (something I haven’t invested in). Also, be sure to flip them a couple times during the baking process to ensure an even texture.

Kale is a powerhouse ingredient in my diet because it’s full of vitamins and minerals that my body needs to function. It’s a great source of that non-heme (non-animal source) iron, vitamin C (this helps the iron to be absorbed in your body), vitamin A, and calcium. Like most vegetables and fruits, kale will help keep you regular and acts as a natural detoxifying agent because it’s packed with fiber.

A lot of people ask me what nutritional yeast is all about. This delicious product is a flaky add-on to anything that needs a  boost of (vegan) cheesy goodness. In fact, it’s used often in vegan cheeses and sauces to mimic that cheese flavor. If you’re vegan, make sure you pick up a nutritional yeast that is fortified with B12! This can be a difficult nutrient for us to obtain since it comes almost exclusively from animal sources (exception: algae, yeast). I like Bragg’s. At just about $6 a bottle, it’s a real bargain.

So if you’ve got half an hour to spare and a head of kale waiting to be munched on, go ahead and try these chips! You won’t be disappointed.

Weekend BBQ: Charred Chickpea Burgers with Chipotle Mayo Aioli!

Sometimes you just gotta have a burger.

BurgerTitle

My friend Ashley Klees, RD over at Healthy.Easy.Yum! knows that just as well as I do, so she came over to help round out my burgers with a side of cole slaw and sweet potato chips! Check out her page to learn how to make these oh-so-delicious sides! Ashley and I went through our dietetic internship at OHSU together and she kept a smile on my face the whole time!

 ashleystuff

These burgers were really easy to make. I ran into a problem with keeping them from falling apart, but throwing some breadcrumbs into the “batter” fixed them right up. Try them at home! They’re easy, fun, and bursting with flavor. I topped my burgers with a drizzle of the aioli (it packs quite a punch–you’ve been warned!) and some sliced avocado for a creamy texture and pop of color.

IMG_0513 IMG_0521Pro tip: don’t be shy with the olive oil! It’ll help to get the outside of your burgers rich and crispy.IMG_0546 IMG_0553

ChickpeaBurgers

The finished product! PS — I used Dave’s Killer Bread whole grain burger buns because they’re free of additives and other junk. They also make sliced bread and other goodies and you can find it at your local Safeway, Whole Foods, etc!

Thanks Ashley for letting me collaborate with you on this delicious, easy, and FUN summertime meal!

Decadent Chocolate Bourbon Pudding, Vegan Style!

Are you ready to taste the most decadent, mouth-watering, and sinful chocolate pudding of your life? Of course you are! My friends, prepare to say goodbye forever to those disgusting processed Jello puddings, and hello beautiful to this:

PuddingTitle

Unlike the single-serve, no-expiration date puddings found at the grocery store, you’ll savor every bite of this pudding and actually be satisfied afterwards. That’s because it’s made of whole, nutritious ingredients that are meant to be eaten and enjoyed!

IMG_0473-001

IMG_0474

The avocado provides a creamy pudding texture, while the cocoa gives your taste buds that pure and unadulterated taste of chocolate. And the bourbon gives us the delightful and unique flavor that only bourbon can give. It happens to go really great with chocolate, but you’ll want to make sure your next dinner party is adults only!

Bourbon or not, this recipe is a fantastic alternative to puddings sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or fake sugars. It’s that perfect summertime dessert.

  IMG_0484

I’ll be making a snazzy recipe card for every recipe I do from now on! You can save the file and print it out for your own collection. VeganChocolateBourbonPudding

Seriously, you guys. Try this. It’s so easy and so so so delicious.

 

 

Do it Yourself: Turmeric & Raspberry “Detox” Iced Tea

I’ve been hearing a lot about the health benefits of turmeric (aka curcumin), and wanted to experiment with it in the kitchen. Since it’s summertime and I really love an ice-cold, fresh beverage after a walk outside or sweating in the sun, a hot meal wasn’t going to work! So instead, I present to you…my original turmeric & raspberry detox iced tea!

title

As a Registered Dietitian, I’m obligated to say that your liver, kidneys, and intestines do a stellar job of clearing out the waste that comes from your food and environment. So any kind of “detox” program that you might want to try probably won’t be worth your money, and you might just end up spending lots of quality time on the porcelain throne.

Ahem.

However….it’s definitely true that consuming certain foods will keep you regular and help you to avoid bloat, gas, and water retention. There’s no need to take supplements or choke down any nasty concoctions. Fiber-rich, whole foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), combined with spices that have a functional benefit, can have a big impact on your intestinal, er, movement.

So what’s the deal with turmeric? It’s been a hot topic in natural health news, and has been credited with preventing cancer, detoxifying the liver, aiding in digestion, and relieving arthritic pain. The literature doesn’t show any concrete connection between turmeric and these sorts of health claims, but there haven’t been many studies conducted. Preliminary research has shown that turmeric might act as an anti-inflammatory agent. In other words, it might have some fantastic benefits, but we don’t have scientific proof yet. In any case, most people have nothing to worry about from adding turmeric to their cooking! (Check with your doctor if you have a health condition like gallbladder disease.)

You can make this refreshing summer drink as long as you have a blender! With just five natural and whole ingredients, this delicious drink is just waiting to get in your belly and start hydratin’ you from the inside out.

IMGP9873

Turmeric & Raspberry “Detox” Iced Tea

1. Assemble your ingredients: 1/2 cucumber, 2 cups red raspberries, 1-2 tsp. turmeric powder, and 2-3 tea bags of your choice.

I’m obsessed with the Pukka “Love” right now, since it’s delicious but mild. You can choose a caffeinated or non-caffeinated tea, based on your preference. Caffeine is a mild diuretic and can help to promote digestion.

2. Brew the tea and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add turmeric. Blend.

All that yellow is from 1 tsp. of turmeric!

All that yellow is from 1 tsp. of turmeric!

*Pro tip: TASTE TEST this recipe as you go. I don’t find the turmeric to be overpowering, but you might. Add 1/2 teaspoons at a time to make sure you don’t overpower your drink!

3. Add the raspberries and cucumber. Blend. (Your choice to peel the cucumber or not — if you have a high-powered blender, leaving the skin on shouldn’t make a difference in taste or texture, and it adds lots of vitamins.)

Refreshing and hydrating beverage? or tequila sunrise? You tell me.

Refreshing & hydrating beverage, or tequila sunrise? You tell me.

4. Pour the mixture into a carafe and stick it in the fridge to cool it down.

5. Serve with a straw over ice. Add agave and a tiny squeeze of lemon for added flavor. Lemon is also a mild diuretic and can help with getting rid of water weight if you’re feeling bloated, but it can easily overpower the fruit and zest in this drink.

The raspberries serve as a great source of fiber (8 g per cup!), and the cucumber is a fabulously hydrating vegetable with B vegetables to start your morning off with some zing, or act as an afternoon pick-me-up! I hope to see more research about turmeric in the future and will definitely be incorporating it into my diet more often.

IMGP9868

Scenes from the Portland Farmer’s Market

The smell of coffee and flowers, the bustle of buyers and sellers. Raspberries, the first thing I eat.

Just some of my favorite things.

The Merry Marionberry

Ah, marionberries. Succulent, sassy, and the state berry-hopeful of Oregon itself. What a pleasure it was to pick all of you little suckers off your vines on this fine 97 degree day!

But really. 97 degrees.

I could eat these right off the computer screen.

Sauvie Island, Oregon offers several U-Pick opportunities through the many farms and gardens on the island all through the summertime. I visited the Bella Organic farm because they use organic principles and accept WIC vouchers, which means that low-income women and children are welcome to pick their own delectable fruit, even while on a budget. As a future dietitian, I love the fact that low-income households can still get their fill of this nutrient-rich produce, and that Oregon supports WIC participants and local farms.

As for me? I ended up with over five pounds of berries, at just $3/lb. You do the math!

Desktop

U-Pick is kind of a win-win. It allows people to choose their own personal harvest and it’s cheaper than buying produce at the store. It supports local farms, and U-Pick can be a great activity to do with friends or family. It saves the farm money because they don’t have to pay to pick, package, and ship that produce.

I’m trying to figure out what to do with all these berries. Any suggestions? Leave a comment with your marionberry best!