Catch of the Day

10 08 2014

Fish is a great way to receive  your dietary needs of healthy fats. In addition to Omega-3’s, fish is a great source of protein. Here is an easy recipe I found in “Simple Suppers” by Gina Steer. This was easy to make and it tasted great. One recommendation is to reheat any leftovers in the oven rather than microwave to prevent softening of the pastry border.

Fish Puff Tart – (Cook time: 35 minutes) Fish Puff Tart

Ingredients:
3/4 lb. prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
5 oz. fresh cod
5 oz. smoked haddock
1tbsp. pesto sauce
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 oz. goat cheese, sliced
1 large egg, beaten
freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

Prepare:
 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 8 x 10 in. rectangle.
2. Draw a 7 x 9 in. rectangle in the center of the pastry to form a 1 in. border. (Be careful not to cut through the pastry)
3. Lightly cut crisscross patterns in the border of the pastry with a knife.
4. Place the fish on a chopping board, and with a sharp knife, skin the cod and smoked haddock. Cut into thin slices.
5. Spread the pesto evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell with the back of a spoon.
6. Arrange the fish, tomatoes, and cheese in the pastry shell, and brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
7. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 20-25 min. until the pastry is well risen, puffed, and golden brown. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

 

Reference:
Steer, G. (2011). Simple Suppers. essential recipes; Flame Tree Publishing. p. 48





Slice Up A Post Workout Meal

5 04 2013

After a tough workout, you deserve to enjoy a slice of pie; pizza pie that is. Try out my fresh spin to this delightfully healthy margarita pizza and tell me what you think.
Doug's Margarita Pizza

Ingredients:
1 bag – fresh pizza dough
1 cup – flour
1 – fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
3 – plum tomatoes, sliced
1 cup – fresh basil leaves, rinsed
1/2 cup – tomato sauce
1 cup – shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbls – extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp – garlic powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread flour on counter top. Roll out dough to desired thickness and shape.
2. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese around the pizza. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the cheese and using a ladle, spread sauce to cover the cheese.
3. Lay the basil leaves on top of the sauce  to cover the pizza. Next, arrange the tomatoes to layer the pizza. Finish off the pizza with fresh mozzarella slices.
4. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic powder together. Then using a brush, brush on oil mixture along the edge of the crust.
5. Place in the oven on a pizza pan or pizza stone for 18 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.





Reducing Waist Lines By Limiting Sugary Drinks

25 06 2012

Last week, CNN wrote a post indicating that the mayor of Cambridge, MA, Henrietta Davis, took steps to adopt the sugary drink ban that was proposed by New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomburg. Not only did Mayor Davis want to prevent oversized drinks sales (greater than 16 oz.), but she took it one step further by proposing to ban free refills on soft drinks at restaurants. “Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”

This is a very bold move and some Americans will complain (mainly restaurant owners and those losing their free refills).  However, with obesity rates and diabetes  still on the rise, bold actions must be taken. Amid the studies and warning signs of inactivity and overeating in America, the majority of Americans are unwilling to make the healthy change. An action to restrict people from inflicting harm on themselves should not be looked upon as a governmental takeover, but rather a change to allow us to live longer. When the government decided to ban smoking in restaurants, there was an outcry from smokers complaining that their freedom was being taken away. However, after a few months, those who smoked went outside as usual, very little complaining occurred, and everyone was able to breathe easily again.

America Weighs In


Limiting the amount of soft drinks someone consumes in one sitting may be a good start in fighting obesity and diabetes. However, the other part of the equation is not just quantity, but also quality. How much sugar is in that 12 oz cup? Sugar is the key ingredient in all soft drinks, and is a factor in the epidemic of obesity. The sugar content in drinks can be difficult to estimate, so we need to turn to the nutrition label on a product.

This is where a startling realization hits those who know how to read the label. The amount of calories within many products are not accurately represented! That’s right, those calories are not what they may appear. A search for an answer was prompted when I was explaining to my wife how one calculates the amount of calories in a product. To figure out the total calories in a product, the three macronutrients are summed up by their respective caloric value. In all foods and beverages, calories are calculated by adding the total amount of fats (1 g = 9 kcal), carbohydrates (1 g = 4 kcal), and proteins (1 g = 4 kcal) in the product. Sometimes alcohol is also added (1 g = 7 kcal). An example was presented using a can of Coke (see picture). When we take a look at the three Macronutrients, we see that the only one that has a value is carbohydrates. This made it easy…so I thought.  When we multiply the amount of carbs in the beverage (39 g.) with its corresponding caloric value (4 kcal), we get 39 * 4 = 156 calories. But wait, why does the calories of the can state 140 cal? This is not a rounding issue as you will read below. The  extensive search led me through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (who regulates the food label) to get to the bottom of the fiasco. Scrounging through the FDA guidelines for proper labeling of nutrition facts was daunting. I came across a plethora of jargon and redirections that made it hard even for the product manufacturer to adhere to the guidelines.

The following were some questions relating to the problem, but there was nothing in my search that could explain why Coke was able to misrepresent their caloric value by 16 calories!

N8. Should a value of 47 calories be rounded up to 50 calories or rounded down to 45 calories?
Answer: Calories must be shown as follows:
50 calories or less–Round to nearest 5-calorie increment: Example: Round 47 calories to “45 calories”
Above 50 calories–Round to nearest 10-calorie increment: Example: Round 96 calories to “100 calories”
21 CFR 101.9(c)(1) Also see Appendix H for rounding guidelines.

N18. What is meant by sugars on the Nutrition Facts label?
Answer: To calculate sugars for the Nutrition Facts label, determine the weight in grams of all free monosaccharides and disaccharides in the sample of food. The other nutrients declared on the nutrition label are defined in 21 CFR 101.9(c). 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(ii)

N16. How is total carbohydrate calculated?
Answer: Total carbohydrate is calculated by subtracting the weight of crude protein, total fat, moisture, and ash from the total weight (“wet weight”) of the sample of food. 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)

When I was able to find the section on carbohydrates and caloric measurement requirements (see references), there was nothing that mentioned how accurate the manufacturer had to be when producing a number. They did state that a certified chemical testing company had to weigh all amounts of nutrients before producing the label. So my question is, what scientist doesn’t know how to do basic arithmetic? Before banning the extra-large cups and refills, we might want to figure out how much sugar we really are consuming.

References:

Code of Federal regulations. Title 21 – Food and Drugs: Section 101.9 Nutrition Labeling of food

CNN: Mass. Mayor Suggests Ban on Large Drinks, Free Refills

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Appendix H: Rounding the Values According to FDA Round Rules

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition Labeling; Questions G1 through P8





The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 4

24 05 2012

In my last installment of the series, I provide some important and interesting statistics about tobacco use and overeating. Don’t try any of this at home.

Tobacco – According to the CDC, the last statistics published in 2010 in regards to smoking in teens and adults showed a steady decline beginning in 1965. The study showed that in 2010 adult smokers had dropped 29.3% (19.3% current) compared to the 1965 percentage. However, tobacco has no health benefits. Smoke it or chew it and you’re still putting your health at risk. Any questions?

Overeating – Sometimes we get so hungry that we begin to gorge. When we finally put our forks down, we hear our stomach yell back at us and it feels like that last slice of cake is trying to bust through our belly button. However, for some, this agonizing feeling never occurs. Place food in front of them and they will be happy to make it disappear. We give these people nicknames: “Black Bole,” “The Disposal,” “Trash Compactor,” “The Abyss,” and even “The Terminator.” Yet despite their names, these individuals all have a health condition called “overeating” or “binge-eating.” Overeating is a very common occurrence. We all have had a second or third helping at one time or another. If you didn’t, you might have piled your plate larger than the recommended portion size and thus still managed to overeat. Overeating becomes a serious problem when someone begins to frequently binge and then finds trouble stoping. The MayoClinc writes, “when you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating.” The causes of this disorder include, family history, biological factors, long-term dieting, and psychological issues. A study by Dr. Diann Ackard and her colleagues, looked at the relationship of overeating among 4746 adolescents. The study reported that girls (17.3%) were more likely to engage in overeating than boys (7.8%). The study also showed a significant relationship between binge-eating and low self-esteem and body satisfaction. The study also associated overeating with a higher risk of suicide.

Overeating is a serious disorder and preventative measures and remedies can be taken to help reduce the chance of binge-eating. If you or someone you know is binge-eating, speak with a doctor hear about treatment plans. Seeking additional guidance from a counselor or psychologist may be needed. If you or someone you know is overeating, try the following to help slow down your rate of consumption:

  • Eat slower
  • Put the fork down between bites
  • Consume more fiber
  • Eat breakfast
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
  • Consume the right nutritients
  • Don’t stock up your fridge or pantry
  • DON’T DIET!

Eating can be fun, but when we begin to indulge in the greater commodities of life, we begin to lust over that of which we consume to much. These seven addictions can be fatal when consumed beyond their limits, but within limits, they can be a “non-sinful” bliss. Be mindful of what you consume (not just foods either) and know when a piece of Mrs. Jones’ homemade double chocolate, rum cake becomes a guilty pleasure. 

References

CDC – Smoking & Tobacco Use 

MayoClinic – Binge-Eating Disorder

Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics – Overeating Among Adolescents: Prevalence and Associations With Weight-Related Characteristics and Psychological Health





The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 3

17 05 2012

If we could only drink water for the rest of our lives, we might actually live a little longer. But where’s the taste in that? So man created two special substances to add to water (besides loads of sugar and artificial flavoring) to make our beverages more enjoyable and practically irresistible. Take a sip of the next two addictions.

Caffeine – Need energy? In the past, our only options were Gatorade, coffee, tea, and Coke. Now-a-days, you find people downing a Red Bull, Rock Star, Amp, Monster, or even a little potion commonly known as 5 Hour Energy Drink. And this is after a Venti dark roast coffee from StarBucks in the morning. Turn to the fitness scene and you have caffeine in many of the common sport-enhancement supplements.  Caffeine is most consumed psychostimulant substance in the world. The benefits of caffeine are heightened mental awareness and increased energy. I must note that according to reports, caffeine is not addictive, however, there is evidence that people react similarly to caffeine as they would to other psychostimulant drugs such as, cocaine. And even though caffeine is not a leading contributor to US mortality, many drinks containing caffeine also include large quantities of sugar. Other health risks associated with caffeine  include, increased heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, osteoporosis, and tremors. News reports back in 2010 (CNN) investigated the connection of energy drinks consumed with alcohol, and the related hospitalization and deaths among college students. The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs states that moderate consumption of caffeine (three 8 oz. cups of coffee (about 250 milligrams of caffeine) per day and 5 servings of caffeinated soft drinks or tea per day) pose no negative effects on a person’s health. Also, those who consume caffeinated drinks probably aren’t drinking enough water.

Alcohol – Have wine, don’t have wine, have only red wine; wait, liquor’s good too? In the early 2000’s research began to introduce alcohol as a health-promoting substance. Going back in history, we know that alcohol was used as medicine to treat different ailments. However, now we’re told that having a glass of red wine a day can promote heart health. So everyone goes out, orders a glass of wine, and smiles knowing that they just fought off heart disease. Not so much. Studies that produced findings associating red wine with the reduced risk for heart disease might be basing their conclusions on the wrong component, reports the American Heart Association. Many of the health benefits from red wine comes from the flavonoids and antioxidants that can be found from red grapes and grape juice. So, instead of ordering a glass  of wine (which is normally more than the daily recommended) the next time you dine out, shoot over to the kids menu and order a fresh glass of grape juice. In case you think that goblet you have in your cupboard is a healthy serving, the AHA states that one drink is the following;  one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits. Due to body weight, height, and frame size, the limitations for men are 2 drinks a day, while women are 1 drink a day.  Have a good time, but do it responsibly. Period.

References:

MedlinePlus – Caffeine

Zancheta, R., Possi, A., Planeta, C., and Marin, M. (2012). Repeated administration of caffeine induces either sensitization or tolerance of locomotor stimulation depending on the environmental context. Pharmacological Reports 1734-1140(63), 70-77

American Heart Association – Alcohol and Heart Disease





The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 2

15 05 2012

In the last part of the series I explained the sweet effects of sugar. The second part of the series weighs two other highly consumed ingredients. Follow the guidelines and you’ll have your body working for you instead of against you. Reading the food labels will help with this part. If you never understood the label on the sides and backs of packages, the American Heart Association can help you out: Reading Food Nutrition Labels.

Fats – According to the American Heart Association, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease.  Fats, along with cholesterol, are the key factors for clogging up the body’s arteries. Yet, we love them so much that we have to have them in every meal. Now don’t get me wrong, there are benefits from the healthy fats that raise your high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and we do want to continue consuming recommended doses of that fat. The problem American’s are facing currently is the amount of saturated and transfats in our diets. The American Heart Association recommends anyone over the age of two to limit their saturated fats to less than 7% of their total daily calories, and limit their trans-saturated fats to less than 1% of daily total caloric intake. The CDC reported in 2007-2008 that Americans (males and females) were consuming 11% of saturated fats. In recent years, the media and FDA have helped reduce the amount of trans-saturated fat found within products by exposing the health risks associated with this fat and requiring companies to show the amount on their nutrition labels. Kudos to them, but the FDA can still be better at regulating what companies print and “claim” on their packages. “Low fat” doesn’t always mean that the fat content is lower than everything else. For a good idea of how many calories are made up from fats, multiply 9 by the number of fat grams (1 gram of fat = 9 kcal). Then subtract that from the total calories in the food to see how much fat you’re actually consuming.

Salt- Sodium has a number of functions in our body. It is an electrolyte that exchanges with potassium within our cells to maintain fluid balance, blood pressure, and acid-based balance. Our muscles also need sodium to contract and move. Lastly, sodium assists in the absorption of certain nutrients such as glucose. While our bodies need salt to maintain homeostasis, we tend to consume larger quantities than we actually need. According to the Institute of Medicine, the Adequate Intake (AI) for the majority of Americans is 1,500 mg of sodium per day. One should not exceed 2,300 mg/day.  Yet, the CDC has reported that the average American consumes roughly 3,436 mg/day. That’s twice as much as the AI! I understand that we have evolved from our Neanderthal ancestors, but really, have we evolved so much that we can no longer tolerate bland foods? Let’s just toss out the main purpose for eating in the first place. Our primary focus now is to make sure that whatever we consume tastes delectable. To accomplish this, throw a dash (or a heaping) of salt on it. I know people who will reach for the salt shaker even before tasting the food and make it snow on their food like a blizzard came through. Too much sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure. This in turn leads to, you guessed it, heart disease! Help yourself out by drinking enough water throughout the day to keep your fluid balance in check. Then switch over to some lower sodium foods. Even though the front of the package says “low sodium,” read the nutrition label and make sure it’s not going to put your salt levels through the roof at the end of the day.

References:

American Heart Association – Know Your Fats

CDC – Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients in Adults From 1999-2000 Through 2007-2008

CDC – Americans Consume Too Much Sodium







The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 1

13 05 2012

One time or another we’ve all been there. The trip to Taco Bell or the late night pantry run. An impulse fires off in our brain that craves a certain substance and we’re suddenly controlled by that impulse to search out and conquer. Once we start consuming, we just can’t let it go. We know where we stashed the Double Chocolate Heath Bar Crunch ice cream from the night before and it’s still going to be there when we look. And sometimes, you regret that urge that came over you. You tell yourself that you can’t do it again. However, days or even a month pass and suddenly that craving strikes again. How do you handle it this time?

In just the last few days, I have heard and seen on several news broadcasting outlets the damaging impact that obesity has created within the US.  Since an article on the cost of obesity was published in Reuters last week, there has been numerous reports following up on how people are getting so big. I can’t blame media for capturing this epidemic, however, why is it only surfacing now? According to an article that came out in this week’s publication of NewsWeek, obesity in America can be traced back to the 1930’s.  As I read Gary Taubes’ article in NewsWeek and Sharon Begley’s in Reuters, I begin to connect the dots. We are now seeing more coverage on obesity because the cost isn’t just affecting the obese. It’s now also affecting tax payers and the actual government (due to the health care reform) because of the amount of money we need to spend to help out those who are overweight and obese. A quick price figure to get a scope on the problem: it costs $190 BILLION in excess medical spending a year to provide services for those overweight and obese. Now what do you think the medical services does to help leverage this cost? You got it, everyone (even the non-obese) pays for it with higher insurance premiums. Find out more about the cost of America’s waist line by clicking on this article, As America’s Waistline Expands, Costs Soar, and read what else is going on as we become the world’s real Big brother.

However, we can’t judge our health based solely on our waistlines. Let’s face it, there are some other substances that we can’t stay away from that are also affecting our health. The question is, why are we slowly (maybe quickly for some) jeopardizing our bodies for that brief moment of pleasure? I refer to these pleasures as the Seven Deadly Sins, I mean Addictions. Studies have shown that the following, when exceeding normal amounts, can cause detrimental effects to our health.

7 Deadly Addictions

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Salt
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Overeating 

Many of these addictions have contributed to the top causes of mortality in America. And, these addictions are catching on around the world too. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America, with 599,413 deaths per year. Cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke are the other three causes that make up the top four in America. What and how much we consume is all linked to the increase in mortality in our country. Understanding how these addictions impact our health and lives can help prevent further increases of adult mortality in the future (not to mention for children). In this four part series, I will touch on each addiction. Hopefully by the end, the information will allow you to yield to temptation and further your success in a healthy life.

Sugar – “Oh how sweet it is to be loved by you,” to quote James Taylor. You can’t resist it and it’s everywhere. I call it a love-hate relationship. We love it when it goes in, we hate it when it sticks around–around our love handles. Walk down any aisle of a supermarket and you’ll find a form of it in the ingredients of any container or bottle. And don’t be fooled, pure cane sugar, maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and even carbohydrates are still sugars. (I’ll speak more about carbs in another article.) NewsWeeks’ columnist Gary Taubes pounces on the idea that this is the real factor that is causing most of the world to be overweight. He has a valid point too.  The majority of Americans still consume too much of this granulated crystal even with the vast awareness of obesity. In the past decade, our  world has consumed more sugar and processed foods than every before, thanks to the convenience of the fast food industry explosion. China, one of the healthiest countries in the world has slowly lost footing for the top rank as their childhood obesity rates jumped by 25% in the last decade. One article states that the influx of fast food chains in Shanghai has caused many children and adults to convert to lower quality of eating. Too much sugar leads to obesity, diabetes, and ultimately heart disease. Don’t forget the adverse effects that come with these diseases, which include, orthopedic problems (swollen ankles, knee pains, and back pains), sleep apnea, and lots of medication. Reduce the intake of sugar by consuming foods without added sugar and stick with fresh produce to get the sugars that will keep you going throughout the day.

References:

CDC – Leading Causes of Death

The Sydney Morning Herald – China’s Spoilt Generation Takes Obesity to New Level