Friday, March 24, 2017

Healthy Cooking Mistakes You’re Likely Making

Cooking more healthfully doesn’t need to be a painful task, but if you’re falling into these common traps you may be fighting an uphill battle. How many of these habits do you need to break?

 

You don’t measure high calorie ingredients

There is such thing as “too much of a good thing.” While there’s no disputing that ingredients like olive oil, nuts, avocado and nut butters offer healthy fats, inflated portions can lead to inflated waistlines. When each tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat, and each cup of cooked whole grain pasta adds up to 200 calories, it’s important to measure out these ingredients to avoid a calorie overload.

 

You defrost meat on the countertop

Is it common practice for you to toss that package of frozen chicken on the countertop before you leave for work? This is a food safety nightmare waiting to happen. The drastic temperature shift from freezer to counter rolls out the red carpet for potentially harmful bacteria and foodborne illness. Instead defrost meat safely overnight in the fridge. Or if you’re in a time crunch, defrost in the microwave then cook immediately.

 

You salt before tasting

It’s reflex for most folks to sprinkle, the salt shaker before you dig in. But what if that meal didn’t need any extra seasoning? Salt is an important electrolyte and enhances the flavor of food. But since most Americans take in far beyond the daily allotment of 2300 milligrams per day (about 1 teaspoon), it makes sense to taste for seasoning beforehand. Don’t skip the salt, just season smart and experiment with herbs and spices to add flavor without extra sodium.

 

You don’t practice portion control

Many healthy recipes are low in calories per serving, but portioning out your meal still matters. It’s also imperative to recognize the different between a serving and a portion. A serving of food is a specified fixed amount that’s reasonable for the type of food. You’ll find designated servings on a food labels or within the dietary guidelines. A portion is the amount of food that’s right for you; this may be greater than or less than a serving.

 

You don’t read the entire recipe

Attack that pile of magazine clippings and bookmarked recipe web pages with confidence. Read the recipe in its entirety first to ensure you have all the ingredients, and all the steps are clearly mapped out. Nothing will sabotage a recipe like a surprise ingredient, utensil or cooking method you weren’t prepared for.

 

You forget about roasting

Create healthy recipes with nothing but an oven and a sheet pan. Roasting at high heat (around 400 to 425 degrees F) is a sweet spot for nutritious staples like vegetables and lean meats. Roasting develops depth and caramelized flavor, which can be totally different than other common prep methods.

 

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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I Now Have Plans All the Way to Ninety

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in line I’ve been intending to write this for some time but was waiting for some milestone. I guess that 75 years is a good one. My birthday was last Saturday.

Basic statistics. At present I am 5’8″ tall, weigh between 176 and 180 lbs. with a 32″waist. Before I discovered the paleo lifestyle I was 205 lb with a 39″ waist. I was also asthmatic, arthritic, grumpy, and on the verge of diabetes.

My doctor told me straight: lose weight or go onto medication. Great. I had been struggling with weight gain for forty years. In my twenties I had given up smoking, in my thirties I was gaining weight steadily, so I took up jogging seriously. It worked for a while, but inevitably injuries accumulate. At forty I looked scrawny, but with a bit of a tummy. I gave up jogging and became a gym rat. I enjoyed lifting. I never liked aerobic classes, but did a lot of walking, skiing, scuba diving and tramping apart from the gym, and that seemed to work. I realise now that I had become what they call muscular fat.

The problem of course was that I was trapped in the calorie restriction/exercise paradigm. This does work of course, but there remains the “law of diminishing returns.” You have to work harder just to stay as you are, and as you get older, you simply can’t.

I retired ten years ago from a lifetime as an art teacher and expected to spend the golden years painting it out. Generally I have done this but was finding it increasingly difficult to juggle exercise, recovery, and general living.

Ross_Before

Then came my doctor’s ultimatum. I was in despair. I had followed the guidelines. I ate according to the pyramid. I chowed down the grains, and avoided all fats. I felt doomed.

The moment of revelation came when I saw a book on Amazon by Gary Taubes: Why We Get Fat, and What We Can Do about It. It was the first time that I had read a clear exposition of the insulin cycle. Two things followed: I crossed my fingers, took a deep breath, chucked out the “healthy living pyramid,” and read wildly and widely.

Overnight I became an Atkins fan. I went keto. I did the Whole30. And I discovered that ultimately all paths lead to Mark’s Daily Apple. Paleo makes sense. We should be able to achieve a healthy balanced life without fanaticism. I believe that over time I have.

The remarkable thing is how effortless it has all been. I expected to struggle. But there has been no struggle. I had some sort of existential angst at the beginning. Surely it must be harder that this? The weight just melted off. My natural weight for my height and body type is 180 lbs. If I wanted to I could work harder and get shredded. Why? I’m not in any competition.

Good things. My arthritis has largely gone. Five years ago I dreaded meeting people for the first time and having to shake hands. The pain was excruciating. Now I don’t think twice about it. I used to have dizzy spells. They have gone. My doctor is impressed with my blood tests. He keeps expecting me to revert, but I keep surprising him. I have one of the best cholesterol readings in his practise, and the threat of diabetes is a distant memory. Heh.

The most amazing result however is my mental focus. I was getting more grumpy and tired. Now I have plans right out to ninety. It doesn’t matter if I never get there because the journey is the thing. I am a plein air painter, and my work is getting better. There are not a lot of things that a man in his seventies can honestly say are improving year by year.

As the great landscape painter John F. Carlson wrote,…”A picture is a work of Art because it is a Sincere Expression of human feeling.”

The reason my work is improving is because I have come back to loving what I do. Grumpy has gone. Once again I experience such joy in the simple things around me. The swallows swooping around my studio. My dog and his delight in sniffing out new things. Light flickering across water, and clouds modelling the distant hills. I sleep well. I wake up ready for another day. Busy busy, but all good.

So, what is paleo living in my seventies? I wake up to a cup of green tea. An hour later I have a cup of black coffee with cream. My version of bulletproof coffee. I also have a small piece of my “breakfast chocolate.” I make it myself. 400 grams each of coconut oil, desiccated coconut, cocoa powder, and nuts. A batch usually lasts about six weeks. After eating this I simply don’t feel hungry for hours.

Essentially every day I’m on a 16-hour fast. My breakfast is usually an omelet with salad about midday. Dinner is whatever my wife and I decide. Fish. Roast. Casserole. Barbecue. Either with cooked vegetable of the day or a salad. Sometimes we eat Thai, Turkish or Chinese. When I’m travelling I will have a burger, but not the bun, fries, or soft drink.

Ross_End

Exercise. I have an active life. We have a ten acre block in the country. That keeps us busy. Apart from this, I walk my dog every day. I also take him for bike rides. He runs. I bike. Every now and then we have a sprint. That is the high intensity bit. I don’t trust myself to run with dodgy ankles.

Two other things. I have recently taken up Tai Chi. I wish I had discovered it years ago. Gentle continuous movement. I have found it great for balance and stretching. Apart from that I have my own gym with weights set up for bench press, squats, dead lifts, and chins. I warm up with up to twenty reps with an empty bar, then do one single very heavy partial rep. Usually I just load the bar and lift it off the rack and hold it for up to ten seconds.

POSTSCRIPT.

Mark, forgive me for going on a bit. I don’t know how much if any of this is worth publishing. I have written at length for your sake, as a way of thanking you for what you have done for me, and for so many others. I know that you are getting older as are we all. Be assured, from my own experience I have found that the paleo lifestyle is a very gentle way of approaching the twilight years.

It is not a denial of aging. Rather, it is the right way of entering and accepting it.

I see my contemporaries around me, and I feel sad for too many of them. Most of them don’t smoke. Mainly because those who did are now dead. Some of them still drink too much alcohol. More than a standard drink a day is problematic.

The main problems I see are way too much weight and passively watching either TV or surfing the internet. When I see what they eat, I shudder. Far too many carbs. Far too much grain. As for passive watching. This closes down the brain. Vicarious living is not living at all. Watching reality TV is not reality. Walking the dog is.

Thank you for giving me my life back.

Kindest regards,

Ross W.

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Monster Mash

This post is sponsored by Best Fiends 

best fiends

Happy Friday!!!! We went on a dinosaur hunt a few days ago and chased down this huge monster made out of a fallen tree that someone (the city of Cville?) decorated with wooden planks. From the highway it looks like a big dino on a hill! It was fun to see it in person.

best fiends

I’m sad that the Irish Soda Bread ran its course. I should have bought some for the freezer! I suppose I could also make it from scratch sometime, but I am not much of a baker. Breakfast was Nespresso decaf, yogurt and buttery toast.

best fiends

I found this kale salad in a bag at Whole Foods with a great texture and lots of different veggies shredded in (like brussels and cabbage). I ate it all week! This was my favorite lunch – served with leftover pork chop, manchego cheese, Caesar dressing and some chopped veggies, all tossed together in a big mixing bowl.

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Mazen has been loving his monster game, which he plays by his own rules, assembling the monster cards on the floor.

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And I’ve been playing my own grown-up monster game called Best Fiends! The company reached out to me about sharing it with my readers. I haven’t ever worked with a game before, so I thought I’d give it a test run before committing to a post. But sure enough, I got hooked!

best fiends

Best Fiends is a free puzzle adventure game where you collect characters by matching objects in paths of three or more to defeat big slugs. I’d describe it as a blend between Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, and Monster Mash! Each level gets harder and harder (I got really stuck on levels 10 and 30), so it reminds me of the old school Mario games, when I’d spend HOURS trying to get past a certain level. I also love that the levels change themes and goals and they host recurring challenges (like the appearance of Granny Slug and Captain Slug!), so you never know what’s coming next. Mazen loves it too, and he plays the lower levels on his tablet. He caught on pretty quickly. You don’t need WiFi, so it was a life saver on our recent car trip (for both of us!).

best fiends

The first 100 readers to download the game and get to level 10 will get $4.99 worth of gold and diamonds for free! (You don’t ever have to buy anything, but if you do you can use it to help you pass levels!) Check it out here.

And finally, dinner was this delicious Blue Apron shrimp curry! I added the peas for a bit more green : ) This was far better than the take-out curry we had a few weeks ago. Perfect level of spice. I’ve really been loving balancing a healthy meal delivery service on the weekends with simple recipes during the week.

best fiends

I threw together this combo on a clean-out-the-fridge night and it was ready in a flash. Chicken sausage, half a sweet potato, and a saute of edamame, kale, and peppers in a sesame oil sauce. Kombucha on the side!

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Thanks to Best Fiends for sponsoring this post and keeping me well entertained when I have a few minutes to kill here or there : ) 

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