Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 1

The top 10 things you can do to improve your diet in 2009!

I always like to start off my year by thinking of ways to improve my diet. Are you, like so many, trying to loose weight? Well, this year I’d like you to just concentrate on eating well and getting healthy. If you do that, the weight will come off, you’ll feel better and you won’t have the anxiety of “being on a diet”.

Here are 10 things to think about. I will be expanding many of these ideas in the future along with sample recipes.

1. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day. Lots of them! The more colorful the better. As you look at your plate, it should look like a beautiful painting.

2. Eat at least 25% of these fruits and vegetables RAW. I’ll be talking a great deal more about raw food diets but for now, I’d just like you to start eating more of your diet in its raw state.

3. Buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible. They are more nutritious and of course, less toxic. You get enough toxins in your body from the environment, you don’t need to eat them. Now I will admit, sometimes organic can cost way too much. I drew the line last week when they wanted $3 for a single cucumber. But if possible, buy local, unsprayed produce.

4. Don’t eat fried foods. First of all, if you are trying to loose weight, this is a great source of calories. Secondly, NOTHING GOOD happens when oil is heated. It’s just a good practice to avoid foods that are fried.

5. Don’t eat white, processed food. These are also known as refined carbohydrates. White bread or pasta, white rice and sugar are a few examples of refined carbohydrates. Select whole grain bread, pasta and brown rice. Honey, unprocessed Sucanat is better than sugar but better yet, use the herb, stevia. It has finally been approved by the FDA, it has zero calories and it is a natural herb.

6. Eat essential fatty acids. Not all fat is bad. These fats are essential for good health and you can get these from nuts, seeds, fish and oils, to name a few sources. For a low calorie, delicious, healthy dose of these essential fatty acids, be on the lookout for my famous “chia seed pudding”!

7. Eat enough protein but not too much (please read “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II). Avoid red meat and processed meats. Good sources of protein include beans, tofu, fish, organic free range eggs and poultry and many vegetables. Many Americans eat far too much protein. A diet with 10% protein is sufficient.

8. Get sufficient vitamin D. More and more data has shown the benefits of this vitamin. Besides helping the body build strong bones, it may also help control weigh gain, ward off diabetes and even have a role in cancer prevention. Although the RDA is 400 IU, many now suggest 1,000 IU per day. Good sources of this vitamin include cod liver oil, herring, and salmon. Unfortunately, there are no adequate plant sources for this vitamin, but fortified soy and rice milks, as well as fortified breakfast cereals do contain this vitamin. Getting 15 minutes of sunshine per day is also a good way to get sufficient vitamin D.

9. NEVER eat foods that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup or Trans fats. These are found in many foods so please read labels and avoid these unhealthy substances.

10. Keep a food journal. When I was pregnant with my son, 38 years ago, I discovered that if I wrote down what I ate, I didn’t over eat. Besides helping you keep your weight in check, it also helps discover food allergies, especially if you record how the foods make your feel.

You can’t start the New Year without a black eye pea recipe. It’s a tradition I picked up while living in Texas during my college years. Eating black eyed peas on new years day is supposed to give you good luck for the year. You’re also supposed to leave 3 peas on your plate (I’m not sure who told me that part but I’ve been doing it for decades now and it seems to work!)

Black-Eyed Pea Salad
2 cups of dried black-eyed peas
1 small avocado, diced
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen and thawed)
1 diced red pepper
2 T red onion, finely chopped
½ cup of cilantro, chopped
a dressing of 3 T of lime juice and 1 T of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sort through the peas, removing rocks and dirt. Rinse well. Boil the black-eyed peas in 2 quarts of water for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and cool.

Mix peas with the avocado, corn, red pepper, onion and cilantro and dress in the lime/olive oil dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of protein and fiber. Red peppers are full of beta-carotene and vitamin C.

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