Beans beans good for the heart

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This blog came up in my Twitter feed and it immediately caught my attention.  The writer, Russ Parsons, reports that we do not have to soak dried beans before we cook them!! What?! Duh? This is new information to me.  In the interest of convenience, I buy canned beans.  I don’t have time to soak beans over night, change the water, soak some more, change the water, boil the beans, change the water….

This blog is telling me that I don’t have to do all of that.  I can simply add dried beans to a pot of water and boil for 1 hour and 15 minutes and voila they are done!  But, with 3 boys, a husband and  working full time I still don’t have time to boil my beans for that long before I add them to my recipe.

My BFF, Robin, is a dietitian living in Salmon Arm BC. She just got a pressure cooker primarily for cooking dried beans.  Robin was visiting her brother in Brazil last year and his girlfriend prepared many bean dishes.  Robin learned that Brazilians use pressure cookers to facilitate the preparation of traditional bean based meals, like black bean soup.  Take a look at the Brazilian healthy eating food guide for some inspiration.

Healthy diets include a lot of plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables; grains like oats, millet, bulgur; and legumes like kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils and split peas.  Plant based foods are sometimes not so convenient and they do need preparation.  However, the benefits are worth the trouble.  Plant based foods are low in calories, high in essential vitamins and minerals and contain fiber which helps to regulate blood sugar.  One unfortunate side effect to eating beans is flatulence.  The good news is, the gut does acclimatize to legume intake and eventually the flatulence will diminish.

I regularly make burritos with pinto beans that I heat with sautéed onions and tomatoes.  I have never cooked this recipe using dried, then cooked beans, but Robin promises the flavor is worth it. She is probably right because I also make a delicious dal recipe with sautéed onions, turmeric, curry, tomatoes, dried red lentils and water.  This recipe cooks very quickly and does not require soaking the lentils.  Red lentils cook fast as opposed to green lentils which take much longer.

If you have any legume recipes to share, please leave them in the comment section.  Do you use a pressure cooker to prepare beans?  Let us know in the comments section too!

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Caryn’s New Year’s Diet

Sneakers on a Pier3 copyI’m starting off the new year with a  diet.   I want to set myself up for success, so I will not make this an all or nothing plan.  I will start with 30 days and if I have a slip up so be it.  Yoni Freedhoff says slip ups happen so I will accept that it will happen and move on. After 30 days I will assess my progress and decide what the next step is.

My diet is about social media.  I don’t think I consume it in a healthy way.  I spend an excessive amount of time on social media.  Since I did not have it growing up, it is a novelty that I cannot get enough of, kind of like junk food for some people.

I long for those days of simplicity with paper and productivity.  I remember fondly writing little notes in class and passing them to my BFF known then as my best friend.  I remember hours of phone conversations instead of endless digital chats.  When I wanted to learn something new, I would get a book on the subject or read an article in a journal.  Now I just scroll through my Facebook feed and click on the many links to learn about stuff I don’t really need to know.

One of the problems has become too much information.  I can’t take it all in. Too much of anything is unhealthy.  Too much food, even good food, is not healthy.  Eat less, is the message top nutrition scientists have been saying for years.  I am going to implement this same advice for social media consumption.

My high school buddy Dr. Tanny is also dieting.  He proposed the idea and it was just the impetus I was looking for to stop the insanity of Facebooking. Partnering up with someone who has the same goals is motivating and fun.  Exercising with someone helps with accountability and reduces the chance of missing  a workout.

We will see how far we get and what positive experiences stem from this approach to reducing the consumption of social media.  Dr. Tanny will wean himself off slowly by ranting on twitter. I will relax on Pinterest for now.

Video

Montreal Dietitian Janna Boloten on Breakfast to go!

http://bit.ly/TAqcTa

Read the story and get the recipes here!

Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

84DE5FFB-AF0F-420A-BB5F-B5C79E404033When I was working in public home care, I used to visit a lot of seniors.  Sadly, many of them had some form of mild to severe dementia.  At one of my home visits, a family member of one of my clients asked me if coconut oil was good for improving the memory of those with Alzheimer’s.  I told them I never heard about that.  I went back to my office and I did a bit of googling and found that there were in fact studies being done on this.  Researchers where looking at the fatty acids in the oil to see of they had any effect.

I met a few other families that had heard about this and were cooking with coconut oil and telling me that it was helping their loved ones.  Who was I to tell them there wasn’t yet enough evidence to confirm that coconut oil improves memory? Many seniors especially those over the age of 80 are at risk for malnutrition as evidenced by weight loss secondary to myriad of issues.

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Here is a current article written by a dietitian on the Extenso website that confirms that coconut oil is not the cure for Alzheimer’s.  But coconut oil is fat.  Fat has calories.  Calories are needed for weight gain especially for those who need to increase weight to improve health status.  It would be remiss to tell those clients not to try it.

The placebo effect is a beautiful thing.

Addendum: Dr. Joe posted this on October 10, 2013!

 

 

(Featured image taken off madeofmuscle.net)

 

Food tips for students that help your health- and your wallet by guest blogger Emily Bell

 I’ve just started my seventh year of post-secondary education. I’ve been doing this “student” thing for a decent amount of time now, and am looking forward to (finally) entering the workforce within the next year. That being said, I’ve learned quite a bit in the past six years- and not just in school. As a result of becoming independent and assuming life’s responsibilities, I’ve learned some ways to take control of feeding myself healthily, affordably and efficiently.

Life as a student presents many challenges to eating: time to cook becomes an issue when we become buried in our books, the food we want to eat can seem expensive when it’s you doing the groceries instead of mom and dad, and there are always ample opportunities to indulge on unhealthy, unnecessary extra calories (think of that after-bar-poutine or that study group pizza).

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 Here are some of my ideas to deal with the above challenges:

  • On a less busy day, make a big pot of homemade soup or chili. Once finished, separate it into plastic containers and put them in the freezer. Come midterm season, let the container thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave, and have a ready-to-eat meal in no time! You can also cook the equivalent of a few meals on a Sunday night to store in the fridge for some no-prep dinners in the coming week.
  • Plan meals before grocery shopping and think of several different dishes that could use overlapping ingredients. For example, it’s hard to use an entire head of spinach (I opt for the head rather than bagged because its less expensive). To get your moneys worth and prevent waste, find recipes for a main course spinach salad, serve it as a side dish, and add it to soups, omelets, pasta and sandwiches. Getting creative with ingredients makes it possible to use them up and avoid getting sick of them.
  • Buying meat less often also saves money. Try incorporating other inexpensive sources of protein such as beans, lentils, tofu and canned tuna into your diet. This is also an environmentally friendly decision since growing and transporting livestock consumes more energy than produce.
  • Find out the places on campus to get affordable or even free food and ask your grocery store if they have any student discounts. My campus offers a free vegetarian lunch every Thursday, provided the students bring their own dishes to keep the event environmentally friendly. Friends of mine who have been studying in the cafeteria around closing hours have been offered that day’s leftovers. The grocery store near my house offers students a 10% discount at the beginning of the week as well as free delivery. Finding good food deals may be easier than you think!
  • A good way to avoid that heavy late night snack or a spontaneous trip to the corner store for chips and chocolate is to keep tasty yet healthy options on hand. Low-fat low-sodium microwave popcorn satisfies my salty cravings (and provides a generous amount of fiber). Pop-in-your-mouth fruits like grapes or berries please my sweet palate- they’re sort of like nature’s candies anyways!
  • If you’re absolutely craving that pizza, I suggest making your own. Buy a premade multigrain crust or use a whole-wheat pita, add some tomato sauce or pesto, load it with a ton of fresh veggies, and top with some cheese. This is a yummy way to incorporate one or two servings of vegetables, it can last for a few meals, it is healthier than frozen or fast food pizza, and it still manages to hit the spot. 

These tips are simple and easy, but that’s what I think works about them- they are doable! So start today and try one out!

Black Bean Brownies

Cooking time: 25 minutes Makes 16 squares

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Ingredients
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 TBSP vanilla extract (the real stuff)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 Tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (if desired)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Put all ingredients in a food processor (except chocolate chips) and mix until smooth
Feed chocolate chips through the top chute with quick on and off pulses
Poor mixture into a well greased 8″ x 8″ pan

Dr. Joe’s Chicken Paprikas

CHICKEN PAPRIKAS

½ cup canola oil
2 chopped onions
5 cloves of minced garlic
2 green peppers
3 tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
3 tablespoons paprika
15 pieces chicken with skin taken off (legs and/or thighs)
½ cup water

DIRECTIONS

Saute onions and garlic in oil until onions are translucent.
Add chicken and stir. Add chopped peppers, tomatoes,
salt, pepper and paprika. Stir. Add ½ cup water. Stir.
Cook 45 minutes on low heat. Place on bed of rice, dress
with parsley.

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