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Feature Thu Jul 09 2009

Smart Food

A couple of weeks ago my co-worker and I got into a discussion about how important it is to really take care of your body. As we learn more about the effects the food we eat has on our health, it becomes more and more clear that we need to think before we eat.

rooibos-tea.jpg

The benefits of maintaining a raw or gluten-free diet are clear, but undergoing a complete overhaul of what you eat in a typical day can be overwhelming. Here are some of my favorite (and easy!) healthy-eating tips I've gotten from my favorite daily email, Peaceful Daily.

  • Greek Yogurt: Replace sour cream with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. Not only does the bacteria cultures in yogurt help enhance immunity, but it builds stronger bones, lowers blood pressure and promotes intestinal health. If you like your yogurt sweet, add a touch of honey and some fruit. Recommended brands: Oikos Organic and Fage USA. Recommended recipe: Lemon walnut yogurt dessert.

  • Whole grain bread: A friend of mine is visiting from Germany and the other night she was telling me about the difference between American and German bread. She explained that, in Germany, the bread is really healthy -- dark, hard and full of vitamins. Unlike our "squishy" bread in the U.S. Not long after our discussion I received my daily tip about the benefits of whole grain bread. After doing some research, I learned that the health benefits come from the nutrients and fiber found in the entire grain kernel. For this reason, "whole grain" needs to be listed in the first or second place on the ingredients list. Whole-wheat flour is not the same as whole grain. Specific health benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as better weight and cholesterol control. A brand on my list to try: Ezekiel. Recommended recipe: Hummus and feta sandwiches on whole grain bread.

  • Cayenne Pepper: For those of you who love spicy food, I have some great news for you. It turns out, cayenne pepper has some pretty serious health and healing benefits. A great source of Vitamins A and C, cayenne has the complete B complexes, and is very rich in organic calcium and potassium making it an incredibly valuable herb for the digestive system as well as the heart and circulatory system. According to bioharmony.com, "As cayenne touches your tongue, the cayenne absorbs in seconds and nerve endings send signals throughout the body -- sending waves of fresh blood throughout your body." Recommended recipe: Bob's Smoky Beef Ribs.

  • Rooibos Tea: It's been proven that green tea has the most health benefits in the tea universe. The only downfall is that it contains caffeine (though much less than coffee). My June 16 Peaceful Daily introduced me to Rooibos tea, "known as the 'miracle drink' in South Africa because of its health benefits and anti-aging properties." The high level of antioxidants and lack of caffeine make this a great tea to incorporate into your diet (though it is recommended to continue to drink green tea, as well). Recommended brands: Adagio Rooibos Tea and Choice Organic Rooibos.

  • Cucumbers: Not only are cucumbers a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium -- they're delicious and can be used in anything (and they can make you look less sleepy, too). A few tips about cucumbers: Buy organic - don't purchase cucumbers that have been waxed because most of the nutrients are in the skin and you don't want to peel them. I also learned that they contain silica which is great for improving your skin's health. A great recipe from Peaceful Daily: Mix the following in a bowl: cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

A funny afterthought: You could probably combine all of the above ingredients to make an afternoon snack: cucumber sandwiches and a cup of tea.

Admittedly, I haven't seen Food, Inc. yet but the film's website is full of useful information: 10 tips for making positive changes to your eating habits, information regarding issues in our food system and plenty of ways to get involved with these issues.

Cheers to your health!

April / July 10, 2009 12:39 PM

Great article! Totally reinforces tips I picked up from various books I've read on the subject -- retooled my pantry and have lost 25 pounds. Thought I was eating healthy but was actually making really bad choices (i.e. Raisin Bran and Yoplait yogurt have tons of sugar).

Kaitlin / July 10, 2009 12:45 PM

So glad you enjoyed it! Congrats on your success! Definitely sign up to receive Peaceful Daily - they give such great healthy living tips.

rolandcailles / July 10, 2009 1:00 PM

Hey Katie! Great tips here. For whole grain bread, I recommend Brownberry's Health Nut. Not only is it healthy, but it has little pieces of nuts in it to give it a real earthy flavor. Plus, Jewel usually sells them buy one, get one free once a month.

And don't forget about the simple benefits of drinking only water!

Seth Anderson / July 11, 2009 1:17 PM

Don't take this as a criticism of your post (because it isn't), but I don't understand why so many people have a negative reaction to caffeine:
The only downfall is that it contains caffeine (though much less than coffee).
Is there some scientific evidence that conclusively proves that caffeine is something a healthy eater should avoid? Cayenne pepper is a stimulant too, for instance.

Evan / July 11, 2009 11:18 PM

From what I understand, even better than whole grain is sprouted grain bread. Thoughts?

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/701909/health_benefits_of_sprouted_grain_bread.html

Jen Cafferty / July 15, 2009 1:37 PM

Great article! I only wish I could eat the whole-grain bread. If your readers are looking for help with their gluten-free diets, there is a large GF cooking show and vendor fair coming up in August at the Wyndham Hotel in Lisle. www.glutenfreeclasses.com.

We also offer individually cooking classes for those looking for more personal attention.

Please keep writing your great articles!

Jen Cafferty, The Gluten Free Cooking Expo
National GF Reporter, Examiner.com

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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