The Whole Grain with the Funny Name

Consumers are starting to understand the benefits of whole grains and are moving away from products containing refined/processed grains.

What makes whole grain better? Whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed, which makes them an excellent source of fiber. Refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, have the brand and germ removed. While vitamins and minerals are often added back in (this is usually where you see the word “enriched” or “fortified” on an ingredient label), they still don’t have as many nutrients or as much naturally occurring fiber as whole grains.  

It’s important to remember that whole wheat ≠ whole grain. Look for the words whole grain and stay away from enriched on ingredient labels. And, to be sure you are getting the maximum benefit, whole grain should appear at or near the top of the ingredient list.

According to the American Heart Association, there are numerous health and nutritional benefits associated with eating whole grains, including:     

  • Whole grains are generally good sources of dietary fiber; most refined (processed) grains contain little fiber.
  • Dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.
  • Fiber-containing foods such as whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories and so may help with weight management.

For more information on whole grains, you can visit the American Heart Association’s web site at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4574 

For some people there is the need or desire to stay away from gluten – which is found in wheat, barley and rye. But eliminating gluten should not keep you from enjoying the benefits of other whole grains as there are many to choose from that provide an excellent source of fiber, minerals and protein.    

Quinoa with Garlic, Pine Nuts and Raisins (photo courtesy of Food Network)

One of these options is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Quinoa originates from the Andean region of South American and has been around for 6,000 years. Quinoa, while technically not a grain (it’s a seed from a dark green leafy plant and is related to beets and spinach), is called a grain because of its texture. Because quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids it is considered a complete protein. Quinoa is very versatile and is prepared the same way as rice but cooks faster. Nutritionally, it is an excellent source of magnesium and fiber and a good source of iron and several B vitamins. You can see a complete nutritional profile by checking out the Nutrition Data web site.

Quinoa can be used in many dishes from salads to side dishes to stuffing. For quinoa recipes, check out these web sites: 

In addition to quinoa, there are several other nutritious whole grains you might want to try. For instance: 

  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgar
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Spelt
  • Wild Rice

As each whole grain has a different nutritional profile it’s a good idea to vary the types of grains you eat. And remember, when reading ingredient labels, be sure to look for these whole grains at the top of the ingredient list so you can get the most benefit from this essential part of a healthy diet.

Hey, Ice Cream Man!

ice cream cone truck

Making Better Ice Cream Choices

While much of the country has been toiling under extreme heat this summer, Southern California has been experiencing one of the mildest summers on record. But this week, summer finally made an appearance. And with the hot weather comes the yearning for frozen confections. Fortunately, there are now plenty of low calorie/low fat ice cream treats and frozen yogurts that can satisfy your sweet tooth without packing on the pounds. WebMD has created a list of the best light ice creams/yogurts, bars and sandwiches. Here are the recommendations:

Best Ice Creams/Frozen Yogurts

  • Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Yogurt Blends with Live and Active Cultures
    Vanilla
    Cappuccino Chip
  • Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned
    Raspberry Chip Royale
    Cookie Dough
  • Breyers Light
    Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry
    Vanilla Bean
    Rocky Road
  • Ben & Jerry’s Lowfat Frozen Yogurt
    Strawberries & Cream
    Half Baked
  • Haagen-Dazs Lowfat Frozen Yogurt
    Vanilla
    Vanilla Raspberry Swirl
  • Starbucks Lowfat Ice Cream
    Latte

Best Bars/Sandwiches

  • Breyers 100 Calorie Cups
    Vanilla Fudge Swirl
  • Starbucks Bars
    Frappuccino Mocha
  • Skinny Cow
    Lowfat Fudge bar
    Ice Cream Sandwiches (Assorted Flavors)
    Cone: Vanilla with Carmel
    Cone: Mint with Fudge
  • Weight Watchers
    Giant Cookies & Cream Bar

You can find complete nutritional information for the treats listed, above, as well as honorable mentions and low sugar options by visiting the Health & Cooking section at WebMD.

Believe it or not, Men’s Health Magazine has created an “Eat This, Not That” guide for making healthier choices at the ice cream truck. Check out this video from The Early Show with Matt Bean, brand editor at Men’s Health, discussing healthier frozen treat options: Ice Cream Truck: Eat This, Not That.

So raise a cone to summer and enjoy. 

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

woman plank pushup weights

Push ups with weights

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is that achy feeling you get in your muscles, usually accompanied by grunting and groaning, when you try to get out of your chair the day after a strenuous workout, or working in the yard all day, or helping a friend move.

According to David O. Draper, professor and director of the graduate program in sports medicine/athletic training at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, “DOMS is a common result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is accustomed to.”

While many of us were taught that muscle soreness that appeared 24-48 hours after a workout was caused by lactic acid (which is now known to dissipate within 30 to 60 minutes of ending exercise), the real culprit is microscopic tears in muscle fibers. No wonder it hurts.

Scientists believe that the damage, along with the resulting inflammation, causes the pain. According to Carol Torgan, an exercise physiologist and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, “The muscle discomfort is simply a symptom of using your muscles and placing stresses on them that are leading to adaptations to make them stronger and better able to perform the task the next time.”

Any movement you aren’t used to can results in DOMS. The pain is usually greater with increased duration or intensity of exercise. Eccentric muscle contractions seem to cause the most damage. In this case, eccentric refers to a lengthening muscle contraction, not your uncle who collects velvet Elvis paintings. Examples of eccentric muscle contractions include running downhill, lowering weights and the downward motion of squats or push ups.

While muscle soreness is actually a sign that you are using your muscles in a way that will make them stronger (assuming the soreness is minor and not the result of an injury or overuse), people new to working out may think that something is wrong. Rest assured, it’s perfectly normal and happens to everyone, from exercise newbies to elite athletes. It’s the body’s way of letting you know that your workout is working.

It’s important to note that minor muscle pain is not a requirement for a good workout. Working out without experiencing DOMS can be just as effective. The old adage “no pain, no gain” doesn’t always apply.

What you do after a workout can help minimize DOMS and speed recovery. Here are a few post-workout suggestions from about.com’s sports medicine section:

  • Rest
  • Gentle stretching
  • Cool down: slow down but don’t stop completely
  • Eat properly
  • Replace fluids
  • Try Active Recovery: perform low intensity exercises after workouts
  • Get a massage: you might want to try a foam roller or my personal favorite, The Stick, to avoid the price tag of a sports massage
  • Take an ice bath or try contrast water therapy (alternating between hot and cold water)
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Avoid overtraining

And remember to listen to your body. There will be days when you simply may be too tired and/or too sore to workout. Give yourself a well-deserved break but don’t give yourself excuses. You might want to try cross-training and alternating upper body and lower body workouts so you don’t have to worry about overworking the same muscle groups day after day.

I leave you with a quote from Plato “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

Goat Milk? Are You “Kidding” Me?

Get it? Goat milk – kid-ding? Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. Anyway, the subject of goat’s milk as a substitute for cow’s milk has been getting some press lately in both consumer and trade publications so I thought I would do some investigation and see what all the hype was about. 

As it’s important to compare nutritional information, I went to our local Whole Foods and bought a quart of Meyenberg low-fat goat’s milk and a half-gallon of Whole Foods’ 365 brand low-fat cow’s milk. Both are free from antibiotics and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a synthetic (man-made) hormone that is marketed to dairy farmers to increase milk production in cows. According to the Meyenberg web site, their low-fat goat’s milk is higher in calcium, Vitamins A and B, and potassium than cow’s milk. However, if you review their nutritional label and compare it to the 365 cow’s milk, those claims do not stand up. 

low fat whole foods 365 milk

365 Low-fat Milk from Whole Foods

Meyenberg low-fat goat milk

Meyenberg Low-fat Goat Milk

 

This particular brand of goat’s milk, when compared to this particular brand of cow’s milk, has the same amount of Vitamin A but less calcium and contains no Vitamin B or potassium. I’m not sure why Meyenberg is making these particular claims, but it is a good lesson that you should take the time to read the nutritional facts panel and not just the claims that appear on the package or a web site.

Here is a nutritional comparison of the two products: 

  • Goat’s milk has fewer Calories but more Calories from Fat
  • They are equal in Total Fat and Saturated Fat and contain no Trans Fat
  • Goat’s milk has less Cholesterol and Sodium
  • Goat’s milk contains no Potassium while cow’s milk has 13% of the Daily Value
  • Goat’s milk has less Total Carbohydrates and Sugar
  • Cow’s milk has 27% more Protein (11g v. 8g)

With regard to Vitamins and Minerals: 

  • They have identical amounts of Vitamins A and D
  • Cow’s milk has 2% Vitamin C and goat’s milk has 0%
  • Cow’s milk has 25% more Calcium than goat’s milk (40% vs. 30%)

According to supergoat.org, a consumer web site created by goat milk producers, goat’s milk has 15% more calcium and more Vitamin A and D, potassium, copper and manganese than cow’s milk. Perhaps this is true with other brands of goat’s milk, but this one has no copper or manganese and has less calcium than cow’s milk. I checked the goat’s milk against another brand (AltaDena) of low-fat cow’s milk and found similar results. The nutritional claims just don’t add up. 

Please know that I am not trying to bash the goat milk industry. Goat’s milk may have some benefits over cow’s milk, especially for some people who are lactose intolerant as goat’s milk has been found to be easier to digest. 

Laguna Beach Goats Brush Control

From an environmental perspective goats have a much smaller carbon “hoof” print as they don’t require as much energy, food or land as cows and produce far fewer greenhouse gases. Goats are also humanely treated as they are raised on family farms instead of factory farms. Plus, goats provide a valuable service—brush control. Here in Laguna Beach, as well as other parts of Southern California that are prone to brush fires, goats are used to eradicate brush from hillsides. In Laguna they are a sort of mini tourist attraction when they are feeding on the hills closest to town. It is fun to look up on the hill and see a herd of goats doing their “job”. 

So what does goat milk taste like? Well, it tastes a lot like cow’s milk. A little different, but not bad. On cereal I could hardly taste the difference. Some of the KeepWell team said it tasted a bit like goat cheese, which makes sense. I also tried Redwood Hill Farm’s goat milk yogurt. The consistency was a little thinner than I was used to, but it was still tasty.  

While I am disappointed with some of the results of my “investigation”, I’m happy to have tried, and learned, something new.

To Sleep, Perchance to Avoid Extra Pounds

Feet on Scale

Lack of Sleep Could Mean Extra Pounds

We often talk about the importance of proper nutrition and fitness as part of a healthy lifestyle. But there is another, equally important element—sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is vital to staying healthy. Most adults need an average of 7.5 hours per night. Getting too little and/or poor quality sleep can lead to weight gain because a lack of sleep can cause your metabolism to work against you.

According to Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz., it has to do with two nighttime hormones: gherlin and leptin. Gherlin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and if you are sleep deprived you have more gherlin in your system. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when to stop eating, and you have less leptin when you are sleep deprived. So, you end up eating more and slowing down your metabolism. That’ a recipe for weight gain. 

The news may be worse for middle age women. In a recently published study in the International Journal of Obesity, Finnish researchers followed 7,300 40-60 year old adults for 7 years. They found that women who reported significant sleep problems put on more weight than the women who slept well. One third of the women with sleep problems gained an average of 11 pounds.

Interestingly, men did not have the same results. This may be due to the study methodology which involved studying only 1,300 men versus 5,700 women. However, there was another large-scale (35,000+ participants of which 31,000 were men) study conducted in Japan which concluded that short sleep duration was associated with weight gain and the development of obesity over 1 year in men, but not in women. It appears this is an equal-opportunity problem.

Jennifer LaRue Huget, columnist for the Washington Post, recently wrote an article on avoiding foods that hinder sleep. Jennifer interviewed Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, and asked what should be avoided. Here are his responses:

1. Fat
Surprise – the number one culprit is not caffeine. Grandner’s most recent research, published in February’s Sleep Medicine, tracked the diets and sleep habits of 459 women enrolled in the federal government’s Women’s Health Initiative. He tracked several nutrients and found, in summary, “The more fat you ate, the less you slept”.

2. Caffeine 
This one is probably obvious. Switch to decaf in the afternoon.

3. Alcohol
While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it disrupts REM sleep, which is an essential component of quality sleep.

And as for the old stand-bys of milk, tea and turkey, these seem to work due to the placebo effect. There isn’t enough credible scientific evidence to prove any of these are truly effective at helping people fall or stay asleep.

Lesson learned – don’t overlook the importance of getting a good night’s rest. It is vital to your overall health. I leave you with this quote from English playwright, Thomas Dekker, Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Well said.

Salutation Nation with lululemon

outdoor yoga pose woman

Outdoor Yoga on a Beautiful Summer Morning

Please join KeepWell at the lululemon athletica store in Newport Beach, Calif. (Fashion Island)  this Saturday, August 7 at 9:00 a.m. for Salutation Nation – a free one-hour, outdoor vinyasa yoga class. 

KeepWell will be handing out samples in the store and we would love to meet you. (If I happen to disappear for a few minutes its because I’m in the dressing room trying on a new pair of running shorts I’ve had my eye on.) 

People with all levels of yoga experience are welcome to attend. Even if you don’t know your child pose from your cobra pose, you are sure to enjoy this outdoor event set in a beautiful courtyard. Don’t forget to stop by the store afterward to check out lululemon’s clothes and accessories (for men and women), and grab a KeepWell. 

If you’re not able to make it to Newport Beach, no worries as this is a nationwide event. Visit lululemon’s Facebook page for the Salutation Nation location in your area. 

So grab your mat, take a deep breath and start your weekend on a positive note.

Short List of Ingredients at the Farmers Market

Fresh Produce

Fresh Produce

Yesterday I was able to visit a second farmers market in the Orange County area, and this time I came back with  several “prepared” foods as well as fresh-baked whole grain bread and a bouquet of fresh flowers.

One company that had some really delicious offerings was Baba Foods (headquartered in San Diego, Calif.). Baba Foods sells a large variety of hummus, tapenade, assorted “dips” and fresh pita bread. You can sample everything. Everyone in the KeepWell office recommends the Triple Layer Appetizer which consists of feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, parsley, basil, oregano and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). The roasted garlic and artichoke hummus is also a hit. Besides the great taste, I appreciate the short, all natural list of ingredients.

Another product with a very short, easy-to-understand list of ingredients is tamales from Gourmet Tamales, located in Oceanside, Calif. Gourmet Tamales offers more than 20 different types of fillings, from chicken and pork to vegetarian and even dessert tamales (how did I not know about these?). The chicken with red mole sauce is excellent as is the spinach, feta and tomatillo vegetarian tamale. My husband, who leans toward being a meatatarian, even enjoyed the veggie version. I think because it wasn’t soy trying to taste like chicken. They are a little heavy on the masa, but the filling is delicious. I have yet to try the orange mango dessert tamale, but I’m looking forward to it.

whole wheat bread loaf

Fresh-baked Whole Grain Wheat Bread

I enjoyed my conversation with the proprietor of the fresh-baked bread stand. She educated me about spelt, an ancient grain that is a sort of predecessor to our modern day wheat. But I preferred the whole grain wheat so I took home a fresh-baked loaf. The only downside is that the bread is unsliced (she told me the key is to cut the bread on its side, not the top). I am concerned that my kids will end up slicing off 2-inch thick pieces of bread and we’ll only get 3 sandwiches out of the loaf. She also told me how to store it so it will stay fresh as long as possible.

I encourage you to visit a farmers market in your area. Just make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to check out all the vendors, sample products and talk to the sellers to find out how foods are grown and/or prepared. As one mother explained to her two young children while they sampled a piece of fruit, “You know how we buy fruit at the grocery store? Well, this is where the grocery store gets their fruit.” Yes, and it’s fresh and delicious.

National Farmers Market Week

Produce

Beautiful Produce

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared August 1-7, 2010 National Farmers Market Week. If you haven’t been to a farmers market, or, like me, its been a while since you’ve been, it’s a great time to check one out. 

You can find farmers markets in your area by visiting the USDA’s Farmers Market Search site at: http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/. Unfortunately, this site does not work for me. It yields no results in an area with plenty of well established farmers markets. Maybe it works better in other areas of the country. However, a national site that does work is Local Harvest at http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/which lists many, but not all, of the markets in my area. I did a Google search and came across a local resource in the Orange County Farm Bureau (OCFB). They provide a list of certified markets along with facts about products and recipes. 

What does it mean to be a certified market? According to the OCFB “every farmer who sells at a certified market is inspected by the county agricultural commissioner to make sure he/she actually grows the commodity being sold.” 

There is a farmers market in our area, but until yesterday, I had not visited for more than 5 years. What a fool I’ve been! Especially since I routinely complain about the quality of berries at our local grocery store (I think the produce buyer needs to have his/her taste buds examined). I was so pleased to see over 30 tents with everything from fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood, nuts and even tamales (more on that later in this post). Many vendors are certified organic. Others are pesticide and fungicide free, but not certified organic. 

Berries

Trio of Berries

There are so many benefits to buying produce at a farmers market. Besides the fact that you are supporting local farmers, you get to sample just about everything to ensure you are getting the most flavorful items. You also get expert advice on how to pick the best fruits and veggies: some by color, others by touch, smell our sound (melons). 

I’ve been wanting to try pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid) and there were many varieties to choose from. I asked one of the vendors which one he recommended and he suggested the Flavor Queen. I was not disappointed. They are delicious – more plum-like than apricot, but still a wonderful piece of fruit. I also purchased softball-sized yellow peaches, a variety of berries,  and pistachio nuts. 

Flavor Queen Pluots

Delicious Pluots - A Plum/Apricot Hybrid

There is another farmers market a little bit further away that is open on Tuesdays and is supposed to be the best market in the area. When I visit  tomorrow I plan  to purchase tamales from a couple of vendors and have a little taste test. As many of you who live in Southern California know, homemade tamales are the best. 

Some vendors accept credit cards, but many only accept cash. And sometimes you can haggle to get a better deal, especially if you buy in larger quantities. 

So if you get the chance, stop by your local farmers market. You won’t be disappointed. 

Stay tuned for the tamale update later in the week.

When It’s Good to Be a Slacker

Demonstration of Slackline Yoga Courtesy of lululemon

All of us at KeepWell Foods are honored and extremely excited to be invited to the lululemon athletica store in Newport Beach, Calif. on Saturday, August 7 for Salutation Nation. This is a nationwide event and its free. You can get more information by visiting Salutation Nation. In case you are not familiar with lululemon, they make beautiful, functional clothing for women and men for yoga, running, dancing and many other physical activities.

Here is the scoop from lululemon on the Salutation Nation event:

Salutation Nation is a nationwide outdoor yoga event being held on August 7th at 9 a.m. initiated by lululemon athletica. It’s an hour-long vinyasa class to recognize that we are part of a community (not “we” as in lululemon, but “we” as in humans). It’s about our friends, teachers, neighbors and their friends, teachers and neighbors joining as one to practice yoga together! Ambassador Erika Burkhalter will be leading the practice in the courtyard outside of our store. All levels and athletic abilities are welcome to join! See you there! *Please bring your own yoga mat for the practice! 

KeepWell will be featured in the store and we’ll be handing out free samples and talking to guests about the benefits of our drink. If you are in the area we hope you will stop by and say “hi”. We’d love to meet you. 

I was looking around the lululemon web site and after buying a pair of shorts that I needed (yes, I need them, no matter what my husband says) I came across photos of a type of yoga I had never heard of. It is called slackline or slackasana yoga. Slackline yoga requires a person to balance on a 1-inch piece of webbing (similar to what rock climbers use) lightly tensioned between two solid anchor points, and perform yoga poses on it. The sense of balance is truly amazing – like Cirque du Soleil amazing. I can barely do a downward facing dog, let alone balance myself on a rope and attempt to do a yoga pose. 

You can see more lululemon slackline photos on flickr  and a remarkable video demonstration from Yoga Slackers on You Tube

Hope you have a great weekend. Namaste.

Healthy Snack Attacks

128 Calorie Strawberry & Low-fat Cream Cheese Sandwich from Eating Well

The idea of eating 3 square meals a day is going the way of the typewriter (does anyone besides me remember carbon paper?) in favor of eating 5-6 times a day in order to boost metabolism and maintain energy throughout the day.

To increase your metabolism and lose weight, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends eating numerous, nutritious small meals or mini-meals a day instead of the usual three.

The ADA has put together a list of healthy snack choices that contain a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains. Here is a sampling from the ADA’s list, broken down by the amount of calories:

Snacks with 200 Calories or Less:

  • One tablespoon of peanut butter spread on a medium-sized sliced apple
  • One cup tomato soup with 5 whole grain crackers
  • One 6-inch flour tortilla with 1/4 cup black beans and 2 tablespoons fresh salsa (my suggestion: go with a whole wheat tortilla, instead)
  • Toaster waffle topped with 1/2 cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt

200-300 Calorie Snacks for Active Adults, Teens & Athletes:

  • Instant oatmeal with fat-free milk and 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 cup sliced peaches and a dash of cinnamon
  • Veggie pizzas: split whole wheat English muffin, top with 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese, 1/2 cup diced fresh veggies and 1 ounce low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Banana split: banana sliced lengthwise topped with 1/2 cup frozen yogurt and 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts

You can see the complete list here, Smart_Snacking_for_Adults_and_Teens1 along with tips for healthy snacking.

It’s important to remember, snacks require portion control. Like all foods, if you eat more than the recommended serving size, you will add calories to your diet. Even if you cheat “just a little” by eating an extra 100 calories a day, you could gain 10 pounds in one year. Yikes!

You can find more healthy snack ideas by checking out the web. Here are a few sites that may come in handy. Many list snacks by calories and some according to food group. There’s a great variety to choose from. (Although, Good & Plenty is suspiciously missing from the lists. Hmmmm.)

Snack Girl: http://www.snack-girl.com/healthy/
Self magazine: http://www.self.com/fooddiet/2009/06/30-healthy-snacks
Eating Well: http://tinyurl.com/2bx5avn
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-best-healthy-snacks-in-your-supermarket

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