Things are about to get a little steamy

Now, now.. Don’t you go thinking the worst! This is a family blog ūüôā

I am 7 weeks post surgery now and 6¬†3/4 weeks into my committment to permanently change my family’s lifestyle.

So far accomplished:

  • Water source improved and water consumption increased.
  • Soda pop reduced to a rare treat.
  • Juice as fresh as possible (though we mourn the demise of our standard issue juicer and are saving up for an industrial one).
  • Whole grains, seeds and nuts are a part of the daily diet and we are slowly replacing all those refined flour favourites with whole grain replacements.
  • Vegetables are a bigger part of our diet, and we¬†are slowly getting everyone in the family on board. Even my darling Veggie-hater son is slowly coming around (slowly, mind you!).
  • Small container garden¬†has been¬†planted and is¬†producing. First harvest of leafy greens is just around the corner.
  • Take-aways and convenience foods, are almost completely eliminated. I say almost because I have promised the kids that we are about changing our daily diet – and a very occasional pizza or chicken burger is allowed.
  • Red meat consumption is down, and we’ve found a source of free-range, hormone and animal by-product free chicken (Yippee!)

It’s great to see progress… but there is still so much ahead.¬† This has been all about gradual change, so this isn’t discouraging.¬† However, I don’t want to lose momentum!

Next on my list is to buy a steamer (ah! now you get it!)  I have done a lot of reading about the nutrients in our food. Some information I knew already, some information gave me greater clarity

Interesting to note: the 3 main enemies to vitamins and minerals are heat, water and oxidation

Oxidation: Vitamins A, C and E are most prone to oxidation. The longer food is stored, the more surface area that is exposed to air and light, the less Vitamin C there is likely to be.  Vitamin A and E are also victims of oxidation. Cool, dark storage helps to slow this natural process.

Heat: The degree of destruction depends a) cooking time b) whether heat is distributed evenly and c) most importantly the temperature.  20-70% of the nutrient content of leafy vegetables is lost in cooking

Water: Minerals and water-soluble vitamins leach into cooking water. The more water used and the longer the cooking time, the more this will occur. High temperatures can even destroy some of the vitamins, though not the minerals. Loss of nutrients in boiled foods tends to be around 20-50%.

Why steam? Steamed foods tend to keep the temperature at the core of the food lower for longer, retaining more of the vitamin and mineral content in the food. It doesn’t take much water to accomplish the cooking process – and anyone who has had steamed broccoli and carrots over boiled know the colour and flavour are so much stronger.

Why not microwave? In vegetables, there is little loss, because the microwaves vibrate the water content in the food. However, essential fats are rapidly destroyed, so it’s advised to not microwave foods with oils, nuts or sees.

Basically I feel that if I am going to the trouble to purchase organic food, grow what I can and keep my fridge stocked with fresh goodness – I want those precious nutrients! Our bodies need them – our cells demand them and I want to give my body all the fight it can have to ward off what attacks it.

Here are some great tips offered by Patrick Holford in his book The Optimum Nutrition Bible 

  • Eat foods as fresh and unprocessed as possible
  • Keep fresh food cool and in the dark in the fridge in sealed containers
  • Eat more raw food. (This is why I love juicing!)
  • Prepare foods cold where possible and heat to serve
  • Cook food whole as possible – saving slicing or blending before serving
  • Steam or boil with as little water as possible – and save that water for stock (Yum!)
  • Fry as little as possible and do not overcook, burn or brown your food
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Veggie Power! The Goal: Healthy Cells!

I have to tell you… all those tense moments sitting at the dinner table as a kid…with my mom telling¬†my brother, sister and me¬†to eat¬†our veggies… really did sink in – at least partially. I have always felt that eating the “5 a day” fruit and veggie would benefit us nutritionally. The challenge has been the effort.¬† It takes time to buy, store and peel – never mind properly cook those little power packs. So, in the reality of¬†my life, it was often forgotten. Excuses such as “no one will eat the salad.. and there are tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce” and “just tonight, we will just have potatoes with our meat” became more than rare occurences. This has now changed. My view of food is different now – and I realize that my food must fuel me – not just fill me.

The next challenge Рnow that we understand about the importance of water, and have addressed the whole grain issue in our diet Рis to add more vegetables to our diet.

And despite my best efforts to teach my children that veggies were there friends (we had almost every video tape of Veggie Tales; we called broccoli “little trees”; we bragged about how Popeye had big muscles because of the spinach and Bugs Bunny had great eyesight because he ate carrots).. 1/2 of my 4 children are not veggie lovers… one of them is a self-proclaimed veggie hater.

 

I have had a new visual picture form from the reading that I have done about what makes us susceptible to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Our innocent but oh-so-important cells are being inundated with all kinds of toxins in our daily lives. In addition to this, we are not giving them the basics to keep them strong. 

It’s almost as bad as expecting a horse to keep ploughing but refusing to give him the food and water to carry on. Through the generations, our cells have become genetically weaker thanks to our environment¬†– and add to this a poor diet of fast good and no exercise – and what hope to we have to live to a healthy old age?

So, fuel them up we must! And fruits and vegetables are at the top of the list thanks to their concentrations of the most important vitamins and minerals.

In addition to all the benefits of vitamins and minerals (which could fill a book, never mind a blog post), antioxidants are very important in helping to keeping our cells healthy and happy. “Antioxidants¬†are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.” 1¬† Free¬†radicals, or oxidants, damage cells¬†causing cancer, artery damage, aging and inflammation¬†and¬†originate from pollution, radiation, fried and burnt¬†foods, sunlight and combustion.¬† The super hero foods¬†with antioxidant¬†nutrients are continuing to be¬†found to be¬†key in¬†preventing and possibly fighting¬†diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Heart¬†Disease, Diabetes, Hypertension, Infertility, Macular degeneration,¬†Measels, Mental¬†illness,¬†Periodontal disease,¬†Respiratory tract infections and Rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition to antioxidant nutrients, God has given us veggies and fruits that are super-packed with Vitamin A, C and E, Minerals Selenium, Zinc, Copper, Iron and Manganese which help to fight those nasty free radicals.

Here’s my plan:

  1. While I was recovering from my surgery, and preparing for chemo, I dived right into juicing. A delicious way to digest fruit and veg in its best form – raw. It was a perfect answer for the nausea¬†I was suffering from – and I could just imagine all those vitamins and minerals strengthening my weak cells. Breakfasts will soon feature a small glass of a new concoction for each of my family members. It may have to be¬†bar room style shots of goodness complete with a “ready… one, two, three.. chug!” but it’s going to happen.
  2. The freshest veggies from my own small container garden – you can follow my progress my becoming my friend on Facebook and joining my “Container Gardening for a Healthier Life”
  3. Surreptitiously adding vegetables to any recipe I can Рincluding quick breads and muffins, sauces, casseroles and even desserts if I can get away with it
  4. Keeping stock of nibble sized fruits and veggies for easy snacking.

This is probably going to be the biggest challenge I will have, next to family exercise. But with a little ingenuity, a positive attitude and some good solid facts behind me, there might just be a good chance of success!

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Antioxident packed foods:

  1. Blackberries (5.75 millimoles per 100g serving)
  2. Walnuts (3.72 millimoles per 100g serving)
  3. Strawberries (3,58 millimoles per 100g serving)
  4. Artichokes (3,56 millimoles per 100g serving)
  5. Cranberries (3,13 millimoles per 100g serving)
  6. Raspberries (2,87 millimoles per 100g serving)
  7. Blueberries (2,68 millimoles per 100g serving)
  8. Cloves (2,64 millimoles per 100g serving)
  9. Grape juice (2,56 millimoles per 100g serving)
  10. Cranberry juice (2,47 millimoles per 100g serving)

1 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/antioxidants

Tabbouleh – a whole grain delite!

The first time I tried tabboluleh, my hubby had taken me to a Lebanese restaurant somewhere in Seattle. The memories of the food that night are still wrapped in warm colours and a fragrant mist.

I¬†have dug for¬†a favorite recipe of mine, and have decided that this is going to be¬†a great addition to our “regular” menu. Made as a side, it goes wonderfully with chicken. Stuffed into a pita, it makes a delicious lunch time treat. As a main course on its own-¬†a filling meat-free¬†dinner¬†(or serve with spiced chicken or lamb on a skewer!).¬† Mmmmm. I’m hungry already!

In addition to the delicious flavours, this dish comes to the table with all kinds of healthy benefits.

  • Fresh Parsley – has anticancer components; is rich with antioxidants; has anti-inflammatory agents; and can help keep your heart healthy and your immune system boosted!
  • Fresh Mint – in addition to freshening your breath, mint will also help to settle an uneasy stomach, is a natural diuretic and can even help ease¬†the symptoms¬†of IBS.
  • ¬†Bulgar –¬† is high in protein and minerals offering nutrition that fills you up without adding¬†in extra calories. ( Bulgar has fewer calories, less fat and more than twice the fibre of brown rice!)¬†¬†
  • ¬†And then there are all the wonderful vitamins and minerals found in the cucumber, tomato and onions.

Tabbouleh – adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Yield for this recipe: 5 side dish sized servings

1 c bulgur soaked for 1 hour in 1  2/3 cup boiling hot water

3/4 c chopped cucumber

1/2 c snipped fresh parsley 

1/4 c thinly sliced green onions – OR sliced red onion

4 T snipped fresh mint

3 T olive oil

3 T lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c. chopped tomato

4 lettuce leaves to serve on

Placed soaked bulgur in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Place into a large bowl with cucumber, parsley, onion and mint.

For dressing, whisk water, oil, lemon juice and salt together. 

Drizzle dressing over bulgur mixture and toss to coat.

Chill for at least 2 hours for flavours to meld.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

Before serving, stir in tomato and serve on a lettuce leaf, or in a lettuce leaf lined bowl garnished with a lemon slice or two.

 (photo courtesy of simplerecipes.com)