Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where's The Beef?

There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. ….To a great extent, we are physically what we eat. Most of us are acquainted with some of the prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom, such as no tea, coffee, tobacco, or alcohol. But what needs additional emphasis are the positive aspects—the need for vegetables, fruits, and grain, particularly wheat. We need a generation of people who eat in a healthier manner.      –Ezra Taft Benson

I’ve mentioned before that one of the books which inspired me to get healthy was Mormon Wisdom and Health by Kenneth E. Johnson MD. 

Dr. Johnson begins by giving a history of The Word of Wisdom.  He writes about the medical knowledge of the day and how diseases were treated.  Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to have any major medical procedures done in 1833.  He then goes into the medical research that backs up the principles given in the Word of Wisdom. Something that really stands out to me is verse 14:

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life,..”

Would you agree that “staff of life” sounds like grain must be kind of important?  This is one reason I’m going to keep eating good complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, steel cut oats, brown and wild rice and others, despite the current trend away from carbohydrates.    

While studying the LDS (Mormon) Word of Wisdom I found that some of the Mormon prophets in fairly recent times ate meat only on rare occasions.  I think a lot of us have the idea that meat is to be eaten “in moderation” (meaning “within reasonable limits) when in fact the Word of Wisdom tells us that it is “to be used sparingly” or “only in times of famine” (verses 12 & 13).

According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (which would have been the current usage at the time the revelation was given), sparingly means: not abundantly, frugally, abstinently, or seldom.  I had to look at my meals and decide if “sparingly” would describe how often I ate meat.  It didn’t.  Not because I love meat, but because I didn’t know what to make for dinner if it wasn’t centered around hamburger, chicken or steak.

Did we cut out meat completely? No. Instead, I made things like Veggie Stir-Fry with a little chicken, bean based dishes, spaghetti with (a few) meatballs, vegetable soups with a little leftover roast thrown in, Cashew Pasta Bake, Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, or breakfast foods for dinner ie: whole wheat pancakes or waffles, eggs  and hash browns.

We do have roast occasionally, but there are plenty of potatoes, carrots, onions, whole wheat rolls and a salad to go with it. An occasional roast or turkey in the crock pot is a lifesaver on Sundays.  When we have beef, we prefer grass-fed beef.  But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, Dr. Johnson's book and several other books on health that I’ve read, recommend a plant based diet for optimum health.  It was hard to change something that is so ingrained in us and so much a part of our culture.  But it has definitely been worth it.

Tell me what you think.  Have you tried eating meat sparingly?  Any favorite dinners you could recommend?  Because coming up with something good for dinner is one of my least favorite things to think about.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do You Have to Eat More to Get Full on Good Real Food?

A question from GRF reader Michelle:

Do you find that you have to eat more to get full when you're eating 'good real' food?  
Sometimes I find myself making a relatively healthy meal and then adding stuff like Stove Top as a filler. Maybe I just need to add another vegetable instead.

Answer: No and Yes

No, I do not find myself eating more calories.  But Yes, definitely I am eating a lot more vegetables than what I used to think was a normal serving. 

For example, a salad to me was a small bowl with some iceberg lettuce and a few tomato wedges and shredded carrots.  Who would want to eat that with all that other stuff on my plate to choose from?  When I say salad now, I mean a LARGE salad.  I’m talking, get out the Tupperware and fill it up with spinach, lettuce, berries, nuts, and cheese or meat or beans for protein.

Brett, my husband, said to me last week. “You know, that used to be a salad for the whole family.” Now I make two big salads- one is for the rest of the family to share and one is all mine. (I promise I'm not being selfish, I'd make theirs bigger if they'd actually eat it.)  If my meal is going to be just a salad, I make sure it has some protein in it to keep me full (chicken, beans, cheese, nuts) or I'll eat it with a large slice of whole wheat bread or Cowboy Caviar.  I look forward to my salad.  Getting hungry just typing this!

While planning and preparing dinner I have to chop a lot more vegetables than I used to.  I make enough to fill half our plates with vegetables, so we can easily eat an entire head of cauliflower at dinner.  I have found though, that my family will eat more vegetables if there is a variety instead of just one type.  You know, because they’ll serve themselves some of each.  So that’s a good strategy for getting more veggies in.

Instead of Stove Top, you could try some wild rice pilaf (Winco has some in bulk that you make with a can of broth), a baked sweet potato, whole wheat rolls, something with beans like Cowboy Caviar, or just add another vegetable like you said, or a fruit. It’s a good idea to have both raw and steamed veggies on the menu, even if you just add carrot sticks or cut up some apples.  Keep it simple!

Other posts you might find helpful: Which Lettuce is Healthiest?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Made the Difference? Nutrition.

photo courtesy:

Here is my food journal from a random Sunday in December 2008.  It may not look like it, but I was trying desperately to lose weight!

Not looking forward to the Monday Weigh In. I'm afraid it will be over 150 lbs.
Food Journal:
2 shredded wheat biscuits w/skim milk
1 whole wheat toast w/butter
1 small hot chocolate (skim)

1 small baked potato w/butter, low-fat sour cream

a 2-3 oz piece turkey breast (made it in the crockpot)
1/3 cup broccoli and cauliflower
1/3 cup spinach w/ tiny bit dressing to dip it in
1 cup skim milk

1 bowl Honey Bunches of Oats
1 1/2 clementine oranges
microwaved 1/3 cup plain popcorn, w/butter buds and a little parmesan. I was tempted to have coke with this, but then I remembered the weigh in coming up!
1/2 cup cran raspberry juice

It wasn’t working for me. Why not?  I should have been losing weight.  I was eating fewer calories then than I am now.

I was exercising:  I walked 3 miles six days a week (at 4 mph).  I was burning calories.  But I was not losing weight!

It wasn’t until I started nourishing my body that I saw results.  This was not a healthy way of eating! A small potato and less than a cup of green vegetables for the whole day? 1 ½ Clementine oranges for my fruit?  I was only looking at fat grams and calories in vs. calories out.  Until I understood what good real food is, I didn’t change.

As soon as I started eating a lot more fresh vegetables, especially green ones, more fruit, more water and less processed food I started to feel so much better.  If you’re struggling I know you don’t want to hear how easy it was, but at times I wondered if it was too good to be true: How could the weight be coming off so easily?  I’m feeling so good about my efforts but what if I’m actually wasting away from some deadly disease.  I really did think that a couple times. But it turns out I'm healthy.  I just had a hard time believing after all these years of trying to lose weight, I had finally figured out what worked for me!  When I started giving it what it needed, my body was more than happy to just let go of those extra pounds.

I still had my days or weeks where the scale didn’t budge, or it actually went up a couple pounds even though I was doing everything right. But this wasn’t a big deal because I wasn’t focused on the scale.  Instead I was trying to see how healthily I could eat each day.  That’s what made the difference.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Healthy Tasty Lunches

What to eat for lunch!  My favorite lunches are leftovers or something quick & easy!
Here are some of my lunches this week:

My new favorite salad.  Thank you to my sister Jacque for this recipe! I am a huge fan of Zupas, but it's not cheap or convenient for me to eat there daily.  This has been my lunch for the last 3 days.  The dressing is Maple Grove Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette.  I fill a LARGE bowl with spinach, lettuce, strawberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries, goat cheese and Emerald Glazed Almonds.  (Never tasted goat cheese until this week.) Just as tasty as Zupas Nuts About Berries salad.  I'm giving you links so you can see what I used, but I found everything at Walmart.
Egg Veggie Wrap.  This lunch was easy and yummy.  Scramble two eggs.  Steam some broccoli and asparagus.  Wrap them up in a whole wheat tortilla or Flat Out Wrap with a little grated cheddar and some Parmesan cheese. You definitely need the cheeses for flavor. Microwave it for 20 seconds just to melt the cheese and you're done. 
Bean and Guac Tacos.  I hesitated to put this picture up because it's not pretty.  But it's good.  I used refried beans, leftover rice and guacamole on whole wheat tortillas.  Then I added green leaf lettuce and ate it with my favorite green smoothie.
Chicken Veggie Stir Fry over Brown Rice.  Leftovers! Whenever I make this for dinner I look forward to lunch the next day.

I'm always looking for healthy quick lunch ideas.  What's your favorite healthy lunch?