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    Archive for the ‘magnesium’ Category

    Beyond Milk: There’s Much More To Bone Health than Calcium and Vitamin D

    Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D (though, remember, milk in the US contains vitamin D because it is mandated by law; in many other countries, milk is devoid of the sunshine vitamin), but it lacks many other nutrients crucial for healthy bones.

    Too often, conversations and debates on the nutritional “worth” of milk turn into a “cows” versus “soybeans” face-off or, if it’s slightly more advanced, “cows” versus all the available milk alternatives (soy, almond, coconut, hemp, oat, and hazelnut).

    As far as calcium is concerned, fortified foods and beverages contain calcium that is just as absorbable as — and in some cases, more absorbable than — the calcium in milk.  In other words — the added calcium in soy or almond milk is just as good for your bones as the one in cow’s milk (or any other animal’s milk, for that matter).

    In order to truly tackle the topic of bone health, though, we need to go beyond the calcium and vitamin D content of milk and its vegan analogues and instead identify all the nutrients that play important roles in bone health.  In doing so, we find that milk is far from the king of the bone health hill.

    Continue Reading »

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Spicy Mushroom & Black Bean Burger

    Onto the second vegan burger recipe!

    While this one requires a bit longer prep time than the firstblack-beans, it shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes.  This burger freezes very well, so you could make a huge batch and save most of it in the freezer for hurried nights.

    YIELDS: 4 patties

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 14-ounce cans low-sodium or sodium-free black beans, drained and rinsed for about 30 seconds
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 cup white mushrooms
    1/2 cup onions, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork or wooden spoon (or, if you really want to get into it, use your hands!). The idea is not to make bean puree, but to achieve a chunky mashed texture. You definitely want solid bits of bean here and there. Once done, set bowl aside.

    In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Once hot, add mushrooms. Cook and stir frequently for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions. Stir frequently for 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to cook until garlic is golden brown.

    Increase heat and add all spices (except salt). Stir frequently for 2 minutes.

    Transfer vegetable mixture into food processor. Add salt. Process for approximately 10 seconds.

    Add vegetable mixture to “bean mush” bowl.  Mix with hands, compressing all ingredients together, making “burger dough”.  Form “burger dough” into four individual patties and cook to your liking (either pan-fry for a few minutes on each side or bake on a lighty oiled baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 7  minutes on each side).

    NOTE: I have been able to get a solid dough without needing to use binders (that said, I don’t mind eating crumbly vegan burgers).  If you want your burgers more solid, feel free to add a half cup of whole wheat breadcrumbs or quick-cooking oats.  Or, if you don’t require a fully vegan recipe, two egg whites will work, too.  Even then, don’t expect these to be as solid as the frozen type you can buy at the grocery store.

    NUTRITION FACTS (for one patty):

    249 calories
    0.5 grams saturated fat
    375 milligrams sodium
    14 grams fiber
    15 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, iron, magnesium, thiamin

    Good Source of: Manganese, phosphorus, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium & Magnesium

    500_T1_W275_HThere are supplements that contain both calcium and magnesium, and yet I have read articles which suggest that these two minerals do not combine well and “compete” in order to enter cells.

    Can you shed some light on this contradiction?

    — Beth Guy
    Portland, ME

    Gladly.

    Calcium and magnesium actually work in tandem in many ways.  That said, they also compete for absorption from receptors.  Consider them “frienemies”!

    Competition for absorption is only a problem, though, when calcium to magnesium ratios are disproprotioante.

    The ideal ratio for their consumption in one food or meal is 2:1 (calcium: magnesium).  Dairy products, for example, generally offer a 10:1 ratio.  Therefore, diets high in dairy can negatively impact magnesium absorption.

    This, by the way, helps to explain why despite having some of the highest dairy intakes of the world, the United States also has such high rates of osteoporosis (remember, magnesium is key to bone health!).

    If you’re buying a calcium supplement that also offers magnesium, make sure there’s a 2:1 ratio going on.  So, a 500 milligram calcium supplement should offer 250 milligrams of magnesium.  If it only offers 50 milligrams, put it back on the shelf.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Kamut

    EFI_PASTA_KAMUT_SPIRALSPlease enlighten me.  For the past few months, I’ve seen kamut pasta at the grocery store.  I had never heard of it before.

    What is kamut?  Is it healthier than wheat?

    — Julie Wilkens
    St. Paul, MN

    Kamut, the “brand name” for khorasan, is a whole grain native to the Middle East.

    The name “Kamut” is of Egyptian origin, and refers to a popular legend (not urban, mind you, just a regular legend) that khorasan was a staple of Egyptian pharaos.

    Although it is a relative of wheat — and definitely not appropriate for anyone on a gluten-free diet — it has a nuttier taste and chewier texture, reminiscent of brown rice.

    You can buy kamut “as is” (it looks like extra large brown rice grains), in pasta form, or as an oatmeal-like hot cereal.

    You will often see an ® symbol after kamut.  No need for concern; it is not genetically modified or owned by Monsanto!

    As kamut producers explain it, the grain was patented in 1990 “to protect and preserve the exceptional qualities of a particular variety of the ancient wheat.”

    In order to receive the “kamut” trademark, manufacturers of these foods must sign a licensing agreement and abide by certain rules (i.e.: 100% organic farming practices, a certain amount of selenium per sample, and a specific protein range).

    A half cup of cooked kamut delivers:

    • 140 calories
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 6 grams of protein

    Additionally, it is an excellent source of selenium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.

    I see very little nutritional differences between it and 100 percent whole wheat pasta, though.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Sea Vegetables

    DulseIn the past, you have written that seaweed is a good source of omega-3 for vegans, but what are the benefits for those of us who already eat fish?

    Is there any reason to eat sea vegetables if you already get omega-3s from animal sources?

    — Tom Emilio
    (Location withheld)

    Absolutely!  Their EPA content (one of the two omega 3 fatty acids found exclusively in fish and seaweed) is only one of their many benefits.

    All sea vegetables are great low-calorie sources of iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin K.

    Another bonus?  Sea vegetables have their own share of unique phytonutrients and antioxidants that help lower risk for heart disease and many different cancers.  This is why I often say that oceans have a very worthy produce section!

    Many people erroneously assume all seaweed is slimy, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    You can purchase sheets of thin, crunchy nori (wonderful mixed into salads or used to wrap vegetables and avocado), dried chewy dulse (pictured, right), or hijiki (which, when cooked, has a consistency similar to that of rice).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Peanuts vs. Tree Nuts

    peanuts-peeledA peanut butter sandwich is as American as apple pie.

    What are your thoughts on peanut butter, though?

    I’ve been hearing that peanuts, which I know are actually legumes, aren’t as healthy as tree nuts.

    Should I be making my sandwiches with almond butter instead?

    — Fred (Last name withheld)
    Brooklyn, NY

    I don’t have any issues with peanuts or peanut butter.

    When it comes to nuts (and, yes, for the sake of this post we’ll treat peanuts as such), my recommendation is to always have one serving of some nut every day.

    One serving is made up of 13 walnuts halves.  In the case of almonds, that’s 23 individual pieces.  If you’re talking pistachios, you’re looking at 49 kernels!

    The issue with nuts is that you could label any one as “better” or “worse” than the next, depending on what criteria you use.

    Consider these lists I compiled:

    FIBER CONTENT (per ounce)

    • Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios: 3 grams
    • Brazil nuts, walnuts, peanuts: 2 grams
    • Cashews: 1 gram

    PROTEIN CONTENT (per ounce)

    • Peanuts: 7 grams
    • Almonds, pistachios: 6 grams
    • Cashews: 5 grams
    • Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts: 4 grams
    • Pecans: 3 grams

    MONOUNSATURATED (heart-healthy!) FAT (per ounce)

    • Hazelnuts: 12.9 grams
    • Pecans: 11.5 grams
    • Almonds: 8.7 grams
    • Brazil nuts, peanuts: 6.9 grams
    • Cashews: 6.7 grams
    • Pistachios: 6.6 grams

    OMEGA 3: OMEGA 6 RATIO (per ounce)

    • Walnuts: 1:4
    • Pecans: 1:20
    • Pistachios: 1:51
    • Hazelnuts: 1:89
    • Cashews: 1:125
    • Brazil nuts: 1:1,139
    • Almonds: 1:2,181
    • Peanuts: 1:5,491

    All of them, meanwhile, are good sources of vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese.  Calorie amounts range from 155 (cashews) to 195 (pecans).

    I always recommend varying your nut intake since each variety contains unique phytonutrients and antioxidants that have been linked to an array of health benefits.

    Peanuts, for example, are a wonderful source of resveratrol (the same antioxidant in red wine and grape skins), while pecans contain high amounts of beta-sisterol, a cholesterol-lowering phytonutrient.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Tempeh vs. Tofu

    Sliced_tempehIn some of your posts, you have mentioned that tempeh (pictured, left) is more nutritious than tofu.

    Is that just because tempeh is fermented, or are there more reasons?

    — Sarah Bertanke
    (Location withheld)

    While tempeh’s fermentation process certainly gives it a nutritional (and probiotic!) boost, there is more to this tale.

    FYI: Fermentation reduces soybeans’ phytate content, thereby making their zinc and iron much more bioavailable.

    Whereas tofu is made by coagulating soy milk with a precipitating agent (in most cases calcium sulfate, thus the high amounts of calcium in tofu), tempeh is made from whole soybeans.

    The presence of said soybeans — in some cases along with wild rice or flax — makes tempeh a high-fiber food.

    While four ounces of tofu provides 1.5 grams of fiber, that same amount of tempeh adds up to 11 grams!

    Due to its “whole food” status, tempeh is also an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

    Tempeh is also significantly higher in protein and omega-3 Alpha-Linolenic fatty acids than tofu.

    Although I enjoy the taste of both, I am partial to tempeh’s nutty flavors and unique mouth-feel.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Adzuki Beans

    imageI’ve been vegetarian for almost four years, but moved to New York City last Fall.  I’ve suddenly come across new foods I had never heard of before.

    One of my favorite restaurants here serves a dish with adzuki beans.

    They taste great, but I know nothing about them.  I hadn’t heard of them before until I saw them on this menu.

    Are they nutritionally equivalent to all other beans?

    — Claire Klein
    New York, NY

    Despite their Chinese origins, adzuki beans are super popular in Japan, where they are most commonly made into red bean paste after having generous amounts of sugar added on!

    That’s right — if you’ve ever had red bean ice cream at a Japanese restaurant or a red bean bun at a Chinese restaurant, you’ve tasted adzuki beans.

    The healthiest way to eat them, of course, is “as is”.  I personally love to add them to a side dish of brown basmati or brown jasmine rice.

    Not only do adzuki beans deliver high amounts of folate, potassium, magnesium and zinc — they are also a wonderful source of lean protein.

    Another bonus?  Their fiber content is mainly made up of soluble fiber — the kind of fiber that helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and helps us feel fuller faster.

    Their bright red color holds another powerful secret — polyphenols!  Clinical studies have shown that adzuki’s polyphenols have powerful antioxidant properties and that adzuki beans offer more polyphenols than kidney beans, and soybeans!

    Most conventional supermarkets do not carry adzuki beans.  However, if you have any health food stores or Asian food markets in your area, you will surely find them.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Lentil Paté

    Red Lentils 002Due to their stellar nutrition profile, hearty texture, and unique flavor, I am a die-hard fan of lentils.

    Though they are often prominent in soups and casseroles, they also go well as a dip for crudité or heart whole grain crackers.

    This lentil paté is especially wonderful served warm in the winter months.

    YIELDS: 8 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
    2 medium garlic cloves, diced
    1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
    1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
    1 cup dry lentils, rinsed (I think red lentils look nicer for dips, but feel free to use brown)
    1 1/2 cups water
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    3/4 teaspoon cumin
    Pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrot, and red pepper.

    Cook the vegetables until soft, stirring frequently.

    Add lentils and water.  Bring contents to a boil.

    Lower heat to a low simmer and cook until no more water remains in pot.

    Add salt and spices.  Stir until well-combined and cook, still over simmer, for two minutes.

    Pour contents into food processor, add lemon juice, and puree until smooth.

    Feel free to add more spices after pureeing, if you deem it necessary.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    123 calories
    0.8 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    8 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated fats, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Seaweed

    895835I consider myself an adventurous eater, but other than a few sushi rolls when I go to a Japanese restaurant, I don’t eat much seaweed.

    Whenever I am at Whole Foods, I see a pretty good-size chunk of one aisle devoted to different kinds of dried seaweed.

    What are some ways I can eat them?  Do they offer any real nutrition  benefits or are they healthy just because they are low in calories?

    — Joanna MacKay
    New York, NY

    Seaweed — which is literally available in thousands of varieties — offers an array of flavors, textures, and health benefits.

    All varieties are good sources of B vitamins, calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and zinc.

    Most varieties also provide substantial amounts of lignans — the compounds found in flaxseed that are linked to decreased cancer risk AND lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels!

    Nori is the most commonly consumed seaweed, as it is the one used in sushi rolls.  However, many people also like to add a few slivers of nori to salads and soups.

    You can even buy sheets of nori and make home-made vegetable rolls.

    For example, roll up mesclun greens, sliced avocado, sliced mango, and julienned (that’s chef-speak for “thinly sliced”) red peppers in a nori sheet, cut the long roll into round bite-size chunks, drizzle a bit of dressing on top (this peanut-cilantro one complements the flavors fabulously), and you have yourself a fun — and nutritious — lunch!

    In Japan, toasted nori snacks are immensely popular (almost as much as potato chips are in the United States).

    Kombu is a type of seaweed mainly used for stocks, while kelp is often added to soups (like miso) or used in granule form to add fishy flavors to vegetarian items that aim to mimic seafood.

    Arame is used in many savory dishes, including stews and grain-based side dishes, while hijiki is often steamed and consumed as a side dish of its own (one restaurant I frequently establish serves up hijiki as part of a platter alongside brown rice, chickpeas, and stir-fried tofu).

    Dulse is mainly available as granules to add fishy flavors to food, although whole dried dulse can be eaten right out of the bag as a snack or used as a salad topper.

    FYI: most seaweed salads at Japanese restaurants use a combination of seaweeds.  The downside?  They contain a substantial amount of added sugars and oils.  If you want to start your meal with it, keep that in mind and make light entree selections.

    The biggest mistake I come across when it comes to the nutritional aspects of seaweed is the completely erroneous claim that they are a good source of vitamin B12.

    They are NOT.  Seaweed contains B12 analogues — compounds that mimic the vitamin.

    Vegetarians and vegans need to be very mindful of B12 analogues; they attach to B12 receptors in the body, and prevent real B12 in the diet from being absorbed properly!

    Also, since seaweed is very high in iodine, anyone with thyroid issues should first consult with a Registered Dietitian before adding it to their diet on a consistent basis.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Maca

    maca-powderWhat are  your thoughts on maca?

    I’m not exactly clear of its benefits.

    — Susy (Last name withheld)
    (Location Unknown)

    If this is the first time you hear of maca, Susy is referring to a cruciferous root vegetable native to the highest altitudes of the Andes mountains in Peru.

    In the United States (and most of the world), maca is sold as a powder, much like cocoa.  You can find it at Whole Foods, health food stores, or from online vendors (I am familiar with the Navitas Natural brand).

    I personally love maca’s unique flavor (it’s somewhere between coffee, cocoa powder, almonds, and nutritional yeast) and often add it to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal.

    Maca is a great source of many minerals — especially magnesium, manganese, and selenium — and contains its own share of unique phytonutrients and antioxidants.

    Since maca is not a popular food, studies on it are limited.  However, this small-scale study published in science journal Andrologia by Peruvian scientists concluded that maca supplementation appeared to increased sexual desire (scientific term: libido) among healthy adult males.

    In case you’re wondering why that was the focus of the study, it was mainly to determine if anecdotes of increased sexual desire as a result of consistent maca consumption were fact or fiction.

    Not surprisingly, I have seen many unsubstantiated health claims for macca on the Internet, ranging from promises of improved memory to eliminating fatigue, all of which sounds more like hype than fact to me.  General well-being has much more to do with general eating patterns than the inclusion of one or two specific foods.

    That said, maca offers a great nutrition profile and I certainly would not discourage someone from adding it to a healthy diet.

    Keep in mind, though, that maca is not a magic potion.  There are literally hundreds of foods you can introduce to your diet if you seek unique phytonutrients and antioxidants — pretty much any fruit, vegetable, legume, nut, or seed!

    What sometimes bugs me about these products is the way in which they are “exoticized” in their marketing, complete with references to ancient warriors and “hidden powers”.  To Peruvians, maca is as common as apples are to someone from Washington state.

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    Where Do You Stand on the Chocolate Milk Controversy?

    4415_Raise-Your-Hand

    Update (1/20/12): My stance on this issue has since solidified. I fully support chocolate milk bans at schools. In short, children consume excessive amounts of sugars, and chocolate milk only contributes to that amount. It is important to consider the “view from 30,000 feet” and realize that fixing school lunch goes well beyond the chocolate milk issue, but this is an easy step we can take to lower added sugar intake in school cafeterias.

    Over the past few days, the nutrition blogosphere has fervently discussed the latest controversy — the “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk” campaign.

    Led by the Milk Processor Education Program and the National Dairy Council, the program aims to “keep chocolate milk on the menu in schools nationwide”, in light of “lunch advocates [who] are calling [to remove chocolate milk from the lunch line, a decision that could] cause more harm than good when it comes to children’s health.”

    The repertoire of widgets, colorful handouts and downloadable documents make it clear that a significant amount of money has been invested in this campaign.

    If that wasn’t enough, there is also a partnership with the National Football League and this slick promotional video that features Registered Dietitians and celeb-moms Angie Harmon and Rebecca Romijn vocalizing their support for keeping chocolate milk in schools.

    So, what to make of this?

    Nutrition professionals across the country have vastly different feelings on the matter.

    One side of the debate is succinctly explained in Dr. Marion Nestle’s top-notch blog, Food Politics.

    Dr. Nestle states:

    “The rationale for the campaign?  If you get rid of chocolate milk, kids won’t drink milk.  You will deprive kids of the nutrients in milk and contribute to the “milk deficit.”   After all, this rationale goes, chocolate milk is better than soda (Oops.  Didn’t we just hear something like this relative to the Smart Choices fiasco?).”

    She also adds that this “it’s all about the children!” campaign is about something else — profit.

    Specifically, Dr. Nestle states, “schools represent sales of 460 million gallons of milk – more than 7% of total milk sales — [and slightly more than] half of flavored milk is sold in schools.”

    Other nutritionists, however, see this campaign as one that takes the important step of “looking at the big picture.”

    While they realize chocolate milk is not an ideal beverage, it is a better alternative than sodas or sugar-laden fruit drinks.  If chocolate milk is the only way a child will drink milk, they argue, then it would be a true shame to have it removed from school cafeterias across the country.

    I am absolutely torn.

    As regular readers of Small Bites know, I have my issues with The Dairy Council.  I find it troubling that, due to their large budget and forceful lobby, they have managed to convince an entire nation that the only way to get calcium in one’s diet is through dairy products.

    Approximately three quarters of African Americans and Asian Americans are lactose intolerant; many of them are not aware that calcium is found in broccoli, bok choy, almonds, and chickpeas.  Due to the Dairy Council’s influence, many educational pamphlets fail to mention non-dairy sources of calcium!

    In fact, this campaign fails to mention that chocolate soymilk offers the exact same nutrients.

    That said, chocolate milk is far from calcium-fortified junk.

    Apart from the popular mineral, chocolate milk also offers potassium, magnesium, vitamin D (fortified), riboflavin, and vitamin B12.  It is very different from a calcium-fortified Kool Aid drink.

    A standard cafeteria-size carton of chocolate milk contains 12 grams (a tablespoon) of added sugar.  That amounts to 48 more calories than non-flavored milk.  I simply can’t muster much emotion over 48 extra calories (assuming, of course, that chocolate milk consumption is kept to one 8-ounce carton a day).

    Similarly, 12 grams of added sugar are not a big deal in a diet that is otherwise not sugar-laden.  Sadly, the average US teenager consumes six tablespoons of sugar on a daily basis!

    So, in that sense, since any decrease in added sugar intake is positive, why not slash an entire tablespoon by getting rid of chocolate milk?  Then again, why not focus on the nutrition-void, sugar-filled junk that is also available at school cafeterias?

    By the way, what has been missing from a lot of the articles and blog posts I have read is this: a chocolate milk ban is absolutely meaningless if, during their lunch period, students can purchase a bottle of Snapple iced tea (added sugar count: 3 tablespoons!) from a vending machine.

    While I very well may eventually take a firm stand either “for” or “against” keeping chocolate milk in schools, I am currently undecided.

    For the time being, I want to open the floor for discussion.

    What do you think?  Is chocolate milk worth worrying about?  Why or why not?

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    You Ask, I Answer: Oat Flour

    5106PF2KV9L._SL500_AA280_PIbundle-5,TopRight,0,0_AA280_SH20_I have a question [in regards to your recent post] about oat flour.

    I can tolerate wheat just fine, but if I were to replace whole wheat flour with oat flour in my baking, would I end up with a more nutritious product?

    — Nicole Clanham
    (City withheld), CO

    Let’s first do a simple comparison.

    One cup of whole wheat flour contains:

    • 407 calories
    • 15 grams fiber
    • 16 grams protein
    • 121% Daily Value of selenium
    • 228% Daily Value of manganese
    • 14% Daily Value of potassium
    • 41% of manganese

    A cup of oat flour, meanwhile, provides:

    • 444 calories
    • 12 grams fiber
    • 15 grams protein
    • 57% Daily Value of selenium
    • 258% Daily Value of manganese
    • 12% Daily Value of potassium
    • 81% Daily Value of manganese

    Alas, no mind-blowing differences.

    There are, however, some added bonuses to oat flour (especially if you make your own by grinding rolled oats in a food processor).

    1. More soluble fiber than any other grain.  Remember, soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and triggers fullness more quickly.  Insoluble fiber — which whole wheat flour contains lots of — helps keep things moving through our digestive system.
    2. Exclusive antioxidants and polyphenols believed to promote heart health and lower diabetes risk.

    As great as that is, you can not fully replace the whole wheat flour in a recipe with oat flour.

    Since oat flour does not contain gluten, a baked good made entirely with it will not rise.

    “Wait a minute,” you may be saying.  “I thought you said oats were not safe for people on gluten-free diets!  What do you mean it doesn’t have gluten?”

    Allow me to explain.  Oats are intrinsically gluten-free.  However, many are cross-contamined in factories that also process wheat.  While the minimal contamination is significant enough to cause problems for an individual with celiac, it is not enough to have an effect on the baking process.

    Feel free to substitute half the wheat flour in a recipe with oat flour, though.

    As I always like to say, keep nutritional context in mind.  Oat flour in an otherwise unhealthy recipe (loads of sugar and calories) is a moot point.

    The best way to get oat’s health benefits is by preparing unsweetened oatmeal (and adding your own fruit and nut toppings) or adding quick-cooking oats to yogurt or a smoothie.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Bananacado Shake

    Most of us avocado-banana-420-420x0are accustomed to eating avocado in its savory form, usually as guacamole or part of a salad.

    In some parts of the world — especially Indonesia and the Philippines — avocado is commonly included in sweet concoctions.

    Fret not: although this delicious breakfast smoothie utilizes avocado to achieve a creamy texture, its taste goes unnoticed.  The key is to use very ripe fruit in order to provide a good amount of sweetness.

    This is one of my favorite breakfast foods whenever I’m in a rush.  The combination of healthy fats, fiber, and protein keeps me full through most of the morning!

    YIELDS: 1 serving

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 small avocado, sliced (or one half of a large avocado)
    1 medium frozen banana (previously sliced and stored in Ziploc bag)
    1/3 cup frozen strawberries OR frozen peaches OR frozen pineapple
    1 cup milk of choice (choose unsweetened varieties if using non-dairy milk)
    1 scoop (or 1/2 scoop) unflavored protein powder (ONLY if using low-protein milk, like almond milk)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 Tablespoon oat bran or psyllium husks

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Place all ingredients in blender and process until evenly combined.

    For optimal texture, blend for at least 20 seconds.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION:

    441 calories (460 if using 2% dairy milk, 485 if made with low-protein milk + protein powder)
    2 grams saturated fat (3 grams if using 2% dairy milk)
    15 grams fiber
    180 milligrams sodium
    0 grams added sugar
    12 grams protein (24 if made with low-protein milk + 1 scoop protein powder)

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fatty acids, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Magnesium, vitamin E

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Red Pepper Cream Soup

    red-pepperMy recent cream of mushroom soup recipe was such a hit that many of you have been asking for another “blend and heat” soup recipe.  I am happy to oblige!

    Here is a similar concoction that beautifully highlights the natural sweetness in red peppers and carrots.  Perfect for fall!  Like the mushroom soup, this is fairly hearty and filling, so you can simply follow it up with a light entree.

    YIELDS: 1 serving

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup water
    1/2 cup raw cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds
    2/3 cup raw red pepper strips
    1/4 cup raw green pepper, diced
    4 baby carrots
    2 Tablespoons raw onion, chopped
    1 Tablespoon chopped celery
    1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
    1 garlic clove
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1/6 teaspoon salt
    Black pepper, to taste
    1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in blender and process until well combined.

    Transfer to small pot and heat on stovetop for 2 or 3 minutes.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (for cashew variation):

    384 calories
    4 grams saturated fat
    400 milligrams sodium
    6 grams fiber
    13 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Copper, vitamin A, vitamin C

    Good source of: Folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K

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