Friday, October 29, 2010

Why you should be eating pumpkin seeds

Eating seeds and nuts is one of the best ways to get the healthy fat that our bodies need.
If you’re trying to lose weight you should limit your intake of seeds and nuts. However, you shouldn’t avoid them entirely. They are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals, and fiber. Since it’s almost Halloween, let’s talk about pumpkin seeds.
Besides being a great and tasty snack, pumpkin seeds have other benefits:
Lower Cholesterol Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
Cancer Prevention Phytosterols that lower cholesterol can also protect against many cancers.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Great Source of Magnesium, Protein and Zinc 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 34 % of your daily value of protein and zinc, and 92% of your daily value of magnesium, a mineral in which most Americans are deficient.
Prostate Protection They’re good for a healthy prostate and alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate.
Prevention of Kidney Stones Have you ever had a kidney stone? Pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.
Help with Depression Pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.

The best way to eat pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) is raw. You can buy them hulled and prepackaged, or you can roast them yourself. Here's a link to my favorite recipe for pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Which lettuce is healthiest?

Go with Romaine! The greener the better! It’s loaded with more Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium and other vitamins than iceberg, green or red leaf lettuces.
Iceberg is the most popular lettuce in the United States, most likely because it ships well and it has a crispness that other types don’t. If you look at the USDA chart below you can see the comparison.
The most nutritious is Romaine, followed by Green Leaf, then Red Leaf, then Butterhead with Iceberg coming in last place.
At my house, we eat Romaine, but we don’t like its giant veins, so I throw those out. If you’re an Iceberg fan, try mixing in some other types. That way you still get the crunch, but you won’t miss out on the nutrients. After all, that’s why you’re having a salad right?!

This chart only rates 5 types of lettuce, but don’t forget arugula, radicchio or endive. You can try those out in the prepackaged lettuce section.
Personally, when I make a salad it always has spinach in it. Spinach beats any type of lettuce for nutrient density, but that’s a post for another day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eat The Rainbow

Do you want to do the 5 A Day Challenge with me?  You've heard that you should eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, right?  Well this challenge is even better for you- to eat one fruit or veggie of each color daily.  The National Cancer Institute and the Utah Department of Health have this handy flier.  They've divided the fruits and veggies  into 5 color groups.  Each group contains different phytonutrients which of course have different health benefits.
For example:
The Red Group (think tomatoes and strawberries) contains phytonutrients like lycopene and anthocyanins.  Lycopene reduces breast and skin cancer risks, while anthocyanins reduce your risk of heart attack and Alzheimer's Disease.
The Green Group (broccoli, kiwi & spinach) supplies you with lutein for good vision and cancer fighting indoles.  Carrots and oranges contain beta-carotene and bioflavenoids, both powerful anti-oxidants.  Then there's the Blue/Purple group that can slow the effects of aging and reduce memory loss.  The White Group will boost your immunity and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure because Onions and Garlic contain Allicin. You can click here to download your own nifty copy.  I have one hanging inside my pantry door.  My kids are learning this all with me.
Click here for a pdf of the Colorful Choices Log to help you (or your kids) keep track of your food color choices each day. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Know What You're Eating

image courtesy of
Remember when I said I had no more willpower than anyone else?  Here’s your proof!   For my birthday last year, my coworkers and I celebrated with one of my favorite things: cheesecake.  I had a piece at the office and they sent me home with the rest.  I ate another after dinner that night.
Here is my blog entry for that day:
Today I followed Jacque's example and decided I'd find out how many fat grams were in the 2, yes TWO, pieces of cheesecake I ate today. 32 grams per slice. That's 64 total fat grams folks! And 1020 calories I might add. Luckily, it was still light outside when I realized what a pig I am. So I went for a little run. I ran 3/4 of a mile and walked 3/4 of a mile. I feel a little better now, But I'd feel a whole lot better if I'd looked at those fat grams before I'd made the decision to eat that second piece.
If I would have known how many fat grams and calories were in the cheesecake, there is NO WAY I would have eaten 2 pieces.   It wouldn’t even have been a temptation. The moral of this story is:  Know what you’re eating!  With a little bit of knowledge you don’t need willpower.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reward Yourself

My 4 sisters and I used to post to a private blog, similar to this one. We would track our weight and what we ate and used it to help and encourage each other.  This entry is from September 2008.
I'm having a thought.... I think we should do something to celebrate milestones. For example if we move from the 150's to the 140's, that would be a milestone. Though I don't know how to celebrate without food. What do you all think about that?
Oh, but the milestones should only be counted on a Monday. Otherwise we'd be celebrating them every other day since my weight usually goes up and down and up. Also, thanks for your comments. It's always encouraging to see that someone is watching what I'm eating and is cheering me on. :)
Looking at your food journals I've discovered that I'm a HUGE eater. You all eat half of the amount of food I do. So my question is, Are you charting everything you eat? (Not that you have to. There are no rules on this blog--except that you can't let anyone else read it.) I was just curious.  

The reason I wanted to post this here is that the Milestone idea really worked for me.  I decided to reward myself for each 5 lbs that I lost.  New work out clothes, a pair of jeans (in a smaller size), and a new play list for my Zune were all things I used as motivation.  Anyone else have any ideas that work for you?

Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Good Real Food?

It seems like we are so concerned with fat grams or carbs or calories that we don't even think of nutrition. OK, so it's low fat and low calorie. Does that mean it's good for you? Not necessarily. What makes a food healthy is the amount of nutrients it delivers to your body.
It's a way of thinking that will take some getting used to.
There are 2 kinds of nutrients: Macro-nutrients and Micro-nutrients and our bodies need them both.
Macro-nutrients are fat, carbohydrates and proteins. Macro-nutrients are necessary, but we should limit how much of them we eat.
Micro-nutrients are vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. (Phytochemicals are plant based chemicals that have disease preventative properties, like lycopene or beta-carotene.)
For a healthy body, the goal is to increase your micro-nutrients without going overboard on calories. So you need to choose the most nutrient dense foods and limit your macro-nutrients. How do you do that? You eat vegetables and fruits! They are naturally low in calories and saturated fat and contain all kinds of good for you phytochemicals that scientists are still discovering and haven't even named yet.
If you're going to eat for maximum health, you should be eating:
* Lots of high-nutrient, healthy foods like green vegetables, berries and seeds.
* Few, if any, animal products.
* Avoid things like HFCS, sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners and processed foods in general.
The more I learned about nutrition, the less I focused on losing weight. I became more interested in being healthy and the weight loss just came naturally.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls this way of eating "Nutritarian". To learn more about it and to find out which vegetables are the most nutrient dense, read his book titled "Eat For Health".