Video Blog Episode 2 – How to choose your cereals?

Some tips from Janna Boloten R.D.!

Which RICE is the healthiest?

Rice is the basic food for millions of people across the world, and the varieties, I’ve discovered, are endless (100 000+!). One of the conversation topics I always have ready if there is ever an awkward silence at the dinner table is, “Would you rather have rice, noodles or bread exclusively for the rest of your life?” I would choose rice because I personally love stews and curries. What is your pick (Leave a comment!)?

Rice is first divided into 3 subcategories: short, medium and long-grain. Popular types that we come across frequently here in Montreal and North America are Brown, White, MinuteRice, Parboiled, Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio and Wild-rice. However, note that within Jasmine and Basmati Rices, there is the choice between brown and white also.

What is the difference between brown and white rice anyway? Raw rice, also named “paddy”, is taken from the rice plant and divided into 1) brown rice, also called whole grain rice or “husked” rice, and 2) husks, which is the inedible part that grows with the grain. The brown rice/husked rice then goes through processing to arrive at the final product, white rice. The general rule is “the whiter the grain, the lower the nutrient content,” exceptions are parboiled rice which is pretreated to contain more nutrients.

Through this milling process, the brown rice is stripped of it’s bran layer and the germ (the embryo of the rice) is lost, leaving the starchy endosperm known as white rice. These losses contain the vast majority of the nutrients in rice, such as vitamins, fibre content, trace elements and mainly, B-complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6) as well as vitamin E. Which is why it is always best to choose brown rice over white rice, even though both are low in sodium and high in potassium which helps the body maintain it’s water balance. Wild-rice also has similar benefits as brown rice.

Here’s a breakdown of nutritional contents of different rices per 2 servings (approx. 1 cup cooked).

*Daily Value based on a 2000 calorie intake diet
*Glycemic Index: Measure of the effect of carbohydrates (sugars) on blood sugar levels. So the faster the carbs break down into sugars (starch -> glucose), the faster blood sugar will spike (bad). So we want to avoid High GIs to balance our blood sugar levels and stick with Low GI foods.  For more info on GI.

I’m thinking of making coconut curry to go with Brown Rice! Be on the lookout with our Facebook Fan Page or follow us on Twitter!

D the Intern

Ernie’s Success Story

I have a friend that I have known since kindergarten. Let’s call him Ernie.  As long as I have known Ernie, he has been on the pudgy side.  He was never obese but could always stand to lose a few pounds.

Earlier this year he started asking me nutrition questions.  He would call me, text me, email me and I started to realize that he was serious about changing his eating habits. Ernie is a bachelor and lives alone.  He didn’t used to cook for himself .  I am not really sure how he ate.  All I know is he had an epiphany and new he needed to make some changes. He was always semi active with golf, tennis and skiing but he suffered from back issues.  If his back was out then he was not active at all.  Since losing over 20 pounds his back is better and he enjoyed a lot of tennis this summer.  Actually, he is now active at least 5 times a week!

Ernie made and continues to make small dietary changes.  Each change that he makes is something that is manageable for him.  For example, he switched from white refined pasta to whole wheat.  He did the same for all breads and other grains like rice. He believes one of his keys to success was cutting out all refined processed white foods. Whole grain is more satiating than white resulting in less calories consumed which leads to weight loss.

Ernie started to scrutinize his portions.  This was a significant step in reducing his calories. Ernie started cooking more and learning how to prepare food in a healthier way.  He had a few cooking disasters along the way like burnt sweet potato fries but that is part of the learning process.  Cooking mistakes always lead to greater success later on.

I guess the biggest change that Ernie made was developing an awareness of what he put in his mouth.  I don’t think he ever thought much about it before.  He was at my house over the weekend and it got to be supper time but he didn’t want to eat with us because he was expected at his parent’s house for supper.  I could tell he was hungry and Richard offered him some homemade wrap pizza he had just made.  Ernie took 3 small slices equivalent to one bread serving just to tide him over.  In the past, he probably would have eaten a lot more at our house and then gone for supper anyway.

Why is Ernie so successful?  You can read about all of his changes here in his own words. But, in my opinion the reason he doing so well is simply because he was ready!

Crazy Confusing Carbohydrates

The world of nutrition has been rocked by some recent studies.  In the past, the belief was that dietary fats were primarily responsible for heart disease and obesity.  The food industry responded by cutting fat in all their processed products.  Fat was replaced by sugars.

North Americans kept getting bigger and the problem with heart disease was getting worse.  People became fat phobic and shunned anything they perceived to be high in fat including healthy fats found in nuts and seeds, olive oils and even avocados.

It should come as no surprise that current research indicates that dietary sugar is problematic.  It seems that highly refined carbohydrates are worse for your heart than saturated fats.

Consequently, the term carbohydrate is horribly confusing for most people.  I ask all of my patients to define it for me.  90% will say bread, pastas, rice and cereal.  They are not wrong. However, those foods are considered simple carbohydrates because they are made from refined white flour.  Complex carbohydrates are not highly processed and have a low glycemic index value.  These foods include: legumes, brown rice, whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta.

To make matters even more confusing there are carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables and even milk.  However, the fiber in the fruit and vegetables and the protein in the milk are good for you.  These combinations are beneficial.

Consider foods such as pastries, cookies, Danish, muffins, crackers, chocolate bars, candy, cake, pies and you’ve got a list of foods made with added sugar and some of them with refined white based flour.  These foods are addictive and can lead to weight gain and health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

If you reduce your intake of sugar containing foods and sugar containing beverages like regular soda (and even diet soda) and juice then you can significantly improve your diet.

Replace white pasta with whole wheat and white rice with brown rice.  Use only whole grain breads and rolls when making sandwiches or toast.  Experiment with legumes in recipes.  Try making a lentil vegetable soup or a chickpea salad.  Instead of making mashed potatoes with white potatoes, use sweet potatoes as a substitute.  Consider baking with whole wheat flour and cutting down on the amount of sugar in the recipe.  Try using unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar.  Instead of juice, try homemade smoothies made from frozen fruit of your choice and milk or yogurt.

Friday Finds: Maya Nachos

April 2010 024I have to
admit I was lazy today and I didn’t actively look for a Friday Find.  I just went into my pantry to see if there
was anything good.  Luckily I found a bag
of Maya Black Bean Nachos.  I love these
chips and so does everyone in my family and anyone who comes over.

April 2010 029The best
thing about them is they are made right here in Québec near the Jean Talon
market.  They have a variety of flavors
like jalapeño, lemon, plain and black bean. 
I like the last 2.  I love making
homemade refried beans and then covering the nachos with them. Then I add sautéed
peppers, corn and a bit of cheddar and bake at 400ºF for about 10 minutes.  These nachos also hold my homemade peach
salsa very well and my guacamole.

April 2010 031If you look
at the ingredients you can see there is not much to them except for corn, canola oil,
beans and spices.  The good news is the
sodium content is 5% of the daily value and there are 4 grams of fiber.  The bad news is there are 16 grams of fat,
mostly monounsaturated which is the good kind of fat, for 16 chips. That is
pretty high so beware.  16 chips will set
you back about 300 calories. 

April 2010 033These chips
are tasty but I don’t eat them everyday. 
I will make the aforementioned dishes about twice a month.  I will probably make my nacho dish in another
two weeks since I just polished off a bowl of this week’s Friday Find while I
was writing about it!