3 of My Favorite Fall Foods

Do you find it challenging to eat healthy this time of year?

As the weather turns cool I seem to crave heavier foods and more carbs like fresh baked warm cookies! But if you are like me you can’t make those too often and still fit into your favorite jeans. So I thought I would share 3 of my favorite fall foods that are a little more waistline friendly.

All 3 of these foods are great for helping lower cholesterol, slow blood sugar rise and control hunger! iStock_000012570640Medium

#1 Apples: There is a lot of truth to the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apparently there are several ways that the phytonutrients in apples help control blood sugar.

My favorite apple is SweeTango. Just like the name it’s a crunchy, juicy apple with a sweetness and tang all in the same mouthful. Take advantage of apple season and take a trip to an orchard where you can sample and find your favorite.

#2 Bean Soups. Chili is one of my favorites. I almost always make it in the crock pot and here’s a little tip . . . when you are browning ground beef make and extra pound, throw in freezer and when you want to make chili you just have to pull it out and dump everything in the crockpot.

Chili is packed full of body healing nutrients for your immune system, diabetes, digestion and cancer prevention.. Plus, if you are low in iron, the beef, cumin, and beans are all great sources of iron. The cumin is also a good source of manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1. Did you know that magnesium is a natural blood pressure medicine that helps relax blood vessels?

Here’s my favorite Chili Recipe  (with helpful hints)

1 lb lean ground beef browned  (keep a pound or two in freezer for meals like this)

1 cup chopped onion (I usually add the onion and garlic at the end of browning the meat or saute them for a short time in a little olive oil before adding to the chili – but it’s not absolutely necessary)

1 clove garlic minced (or 1/8 tsp garlic powder if you don’t have garlic cloves on hand)

28 oz canned tomatoes (chopped or pureed, or better yet home canned stewed tomatoes)

2 cans kidney beans (or whatever beans you like- I have used black beans and pinto beans also)

1 15-oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp chili powder (can use more or less depending on your taste preference)

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste (I use a small amount of sea salt but you may prefer not to add salt)

Put all ingredients in the crockpot, stir and let it cook according to your crockpot instructions, usually 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

#3 Oatmeal: If you like oatmeal there is nothing better on a cold morning than a warm bowl of oatmeal with a little brown sugar and plenty of cinnamon. That’s my favorite but maybe not yours. You can add honey or fruit or any other natural sweetener but my point is to find the combination YOU like. Try to avoid the instant and find your own combination of flavors. For some great ideas check this blog post at FoodHappy.

Hope you enjoyed these tips and please share your favorite fall foods in the comments!

“True health-care reform starts in your kitchen, not in Washington” -Anonymous

Grapes: Good or Bad for Diabetes?

grapesI get this question a lot. Many people have been told grapes are too high in sugar and if you have diabetes you should not eat them.

Grapes are actually very heart healthy and have a low glycemic index, in the 43-53 range. One serving is about 15-20 grapes, a small handful. The equal amount of carbohydrate in grape juice would be about 1/3 cup.

More Health Benefits of Grapes

  • Resveratrol: grapes have more than any other food and it may help prevent damage to blood vessels.
  • Manganese, vitamin K and potassium: grapes are a good source of these nutrients and 19 different phytonutrients.
  • Helps control blood pressure: the flavonoids in grapes help keep arteries elastic so they can expand when needed for increased blood flow.
  • Helps lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) by slowing LDL oxidation: LDL sticks to the walls of veins and arteries when it gets oxidized. This leads to inflammation and plaque, which narrows the blood vessels and increases the chance of heart attack or stroke.
  • Decreases activity of platelets, which are responsible for clotting. If platelets are too active it can cause clots to form inside blood vessels and lead to heart attacks.
  • Helps the release of nitric oxide, which is also helpful in preventing neuropathy, the nerve damage that causes numbness and pain in feet and hands.

Concord grape juice is also great for heart health and you can even make your own flavored water by diluting the juice. This can be a healthy alternative to regular or diet soda. (Just be sure you are buying 100% grape juice).

Of course if you are on certain medications you don’t want to interfere with levels of vitamin K or potassium so always check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Don’t Let Diabetes Get You Down.

Now I want to talk about the other effect of diabetes related to our heart . . . the emotional effect of having diabetes. Having any chronic disease is stressful, but diabetes is so much about food that it can often trigger more emotional eating just trying to deal with it all. And if you have high or low blood sugars, that can affect your mood.

Why am I mentioning this? If you are struggling with managing diabetes and need help problem solving, email me to schedule a complimentary 15 minute chat and learn more about how I can help you take control of diabetes. Coaching sessions are customized to your needs and can be done from the comfort and privacy of your own home by phone.

Sign up for the free report “10 Strategies to Control Carb Cravings” so you can receive ongoing tips on diabetes as well as updates and discounts on programs!

Apple a Day for Blood Sugar Delay?

Well, maybe not an apple a day year round but this time of year when apples are fresh picked I can eat at least one apple a day without a problem. And just yesterday I discovered a new apple that I LOVE! In fact right now I am eating my second one for the day and will be going to the store to get more tomorrow.

It's called SweeTango. What a great name! My son's reaction after his first bite was "That's incredible!"  I describe it as juicy, crispy and a combination of sweet and tanginess.

How are apples good for diabetes?
Natural chemicals in apples work together with the fiber to help slow the digestion and absorption of the sugars so you get a slower rise in blood sugar. These nutrients also help to lower cholesterol. You can read more about how that works at World's Healthiest Foods   You can also read more about a study where women who ate dried apples had a 23% drop in cholesterol!

For an apple dessert try my favorite apple crisp recipe in one of my archived newsletters!

Quick Links for Winter Weight Loss with Great Soup Recipes!

Feels like winter here in Minnesota today with temps in the 40s, wind, and rain turning to snow! Nothing tastes better on days like this than a warm bowl of soup!

Two quick links for soup ideas  -  read my previous post Why Are Soups Great for Your Weight 

and

Check out these waistline friendly soups at dLife!

If you try the recipes be sure to come back and share with me your favorites and if they work for your weight loss plan!

 

Diabetes DeProcessing: The High Fructose Corn Syrup Debate

What's your opinion on high fructose corn syrup?

Do you think it is getting unfairly attacked or do you think it is the root of all our health problems these days?

Maybe we need to go beyond the question of "is HFCS bad for our
health?"  Maybe we need to ask ourselves . . . What else is in these
processed foods I am eating? How much of these foods am I eating?  and
Can I find another version of this food that has fewer ingredients? 

A recent study in the Journal of the American Society of
Nephrology reported that consuming more fructose from added sugar is
associated with high blood pressure. They referenced the amount of
fructose as being 2-3 cans of soda daily.

So is it really the fructose causing higher blood pressure or the added sugar or the weight gain from the extra calories? Does it matter? In a world of processed foods everywhere and obesity, diabetes and heart disease causing health costs to skyrocket, the simple answer seems to be to eat less of them and substitute more fresh, unprocessed foods. You won't find HFCS in fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, or unprocessed
grains.

Simple, but not easy. Changing our eating habits starts with an awareness of how what we put in our bodies affects our health and wellness. If we understand that eating processed foods on a regular basis is eventually going to cause disease in our body, then the next reason to change our habits comes down to how much we value our life, our body and our children that are following in our footsteps.

If we value our health and we are able and willing to change, we will start buying less of the processed foods. We will start growing our own gardens and buying more fresh locally grown foods. We can not blame the food companies for producing these highly processed foods if we continue to buy them. Companies produce and sell what consumers demand.

So where can you start?      Well,  I decided to do a quick check of my kitchen. Reading the food labels I
found HFCS in barbecue sauce, canned pasta, ice cream, cereal, and one
of my kid's favorite soft drinks. It is in a LOT of foods.

Do a quick inventory for high fructose corn syrup in your kitchen.  Most foods you find HFCS in are also likely to contain several other ingredients you aren't familiar with. On my list I could easily find ice cream, cereal and pasta with very few ingredients. They can be more expensive comparing apples to apples but when you look at your overall food bill for the week, you can actually save money by eating less processed foods. You may need to do more cooking but there are also many quick and easy ways to prepare healthier foods. After you get away from eating processed foods your tastes will also change and you will want the real thing instead of a processed, artificial version.

Here are more articles on high fructose corn syrup from Eating Well. 

5 Ways to Lower Your Chance of Heart Problems

Here are a few very specific things you can do to prevent heart disease, especially if you have diabetes. Check out the recent news links to learn more details. 

  1. Limit the bologna, hot dogs, sausage and other processed meat you eat.  Read this news story. 
  2. Brush your teeth twice daily and keep your gums healthy. Quick Video Explanation 
  3. Try a bran cereal for breakfast. Read the story about how women with diabetes may live longer if they eat more bran.
  4. Ask your doctor if you should be taking aspirin daily.  Quick Video Explanation
  5. Lower your lipids by eating or drinking less sugar. Check out the article here.

Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke? 

  Take a quick review at the American Heart Association site.

Try the Healthy Fat & Fiber of Flax Seed to Lower Cholesterol

Diabetes or no diabetes, many people struggle with high cholesterol. If you are looking for ways to naturally lower cholesterol so you can avoid medication, this grain that has been grown for thousands of years could help. Why should you try flax seed? 

  • Nice balance of healthy omega fat and also fiber
  • Low cost. A box of ground flax can be purchased for $2 to $3
  • Nice, mild nutty flavor
  • Easy to use. Just add to cereal, casseroles, salad, yogurt, muffins, or anything you like!
  • Also helps digestion, controlling constipation, and is gluten free.

Add ground flax to your oatmeal and you've got double the power for lowering cholesterol. Today I found a recipe for Flax Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and gave them a try. They were quite tasty and turned out very much like the standard cookies as far as texture. I like the fact that they have flax seed, oatmeal and walnuts in them  -  three healthy ingredients that I love. You still need to be careful of how many you eat. I have a hard time with portion control when it comes to homemade chocolate chip cookies.

A couple more tips for flax:

  • If you take flax oil, remember that you will not get the fiber benefit.
  • Be sure to refrigerate your ground flax seed to keep it fresh. Use it up in 2-3 months.
  • For cholesterol benefit, use it daily about the same time like medicine so you don't forget. 
  • Usually found in the baking isle or health section of your supermarket.

I would love to hear your ideas on recipes using flax seed. Please share in the comments.

Chili is a recipe loaded with diabetes fighting ingredients!

Chili is one of my favorite cold weather foods. Besides tasting great and warming you up on a cold day, almost every ingredient in chili has health benefits. Here is my family's favorite recipe. It's easy and good for you too!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste

My favorite way to cook chili is in the crock pot and often I do soups overnight because I cook the ground beef, onions and garlic and then throw everything in the crock pot while I am cooking another dinner. That way I cook two meals at once. When I get up in the morning I turn it off, let it cool and before I go out the door put it in the fridge. All that's left is to heat it up for supper in the evening!

The health benefits of chili for diabetes are numerous. Kidney beans are one of the best food sources of fiber providing almost half our daily requirement. Even though the beans are carbohydrate the fiber slows down the blood sugar rise after the meal. Kidney beans also have 57% of our daily need for folate, which lowers homocysteine levels and 20% of our need for magnesium, a natural blood pressure medicine.

Chili powder, ground from red chili peppers, contains capsaicin, which fights inflammation, reduces insulin needs and helps lower blood sugars.

If you go easy on the salt and choose lean ground beef, every other ingredient in chili will help you fight diabetes in one way or another.  If you are watching your weight, 1 small to medium bowl of chili will provide about 500 calories. My problem is that I love bread with my chili, which puts me well over my weight control portion.

The great thing about making chili and other soups is that you can add and subtract ingredients to your liking and create your own favorite recipe. If you have a favorite chili recipe please share!

Blueberries Make an Excellent Snack Choice for Fighting Diabetes

Here's my afternoon snack today: organic vanilla yogurt with blueberries and banana. All for just over 200 calories! Blueberries are in season so enjoy some soon with the tasty recipe ideas below and let the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories go to work helping you fight diabetes!

Take a look at the powerful health benefits you get . . .  

  • 38% more antioxidants than wine to protect your heart
  • low calorie and high fiber to help with weight loss
  • help protect the brain from dementia and Alzheimers
  • good source of soluble fiber pectin to help lower cholesterol
  • reducing inflammation in digestive system
  • same compound found in cranberries that helps prevent urinary tract infections

BE SURE TO ENJOY YOUR BLUEBERRIES UNCOOKED. HEAT WILL DAMAGE THE ANTIOXIDANTS!

1 cup of blueberries is about 80 calories, 1 carb choice and 4 grams fiber. Also an excellent source of vitamin C and E.

So grab some blueberries at your local farmers market or grocer, whip up a smoothie or parfait, or try the recipes below!  . . . . and share your favorites with me too!!!

Fruit S'mores recipe

Blueberry Cheesecake for Calorie Counters 

Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust