Complementary Proteins


By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by Liz Mc via Flickr
Original Image by Liz Mc via Flickr

We all know there are simple and complex carbohydrates, but how many people are familiar with the different types of proteins? Yes, not all proteins are made the same! Complement proteins, made of amino acids, are those that come together to form a higher quality protein.  There are twenty amino acids, with ten considered essential to be obtained from the body as the body can not produce them. These include valine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, threonine and lysine. Limiting amino acids, such as cysteine, tryptophan, cysteine and methionine’s intake are monitored since if diet becomes too low in one of the amino acids, it will limit usefulness of other amino acids consumed. For example, while beans are high in lysine, they are low in methionine and cysteine.  While grains are high lysine, they are low in methionine and cysteine, making eating grains and beans at the same meal a great pairing, called complementary proteins.

A vegetarian requires complementary proteins from foods in order to obtain the complete package of essential amino acids. Vegetarians obtain their protein sources from vegetable sources, which do not always contain all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts. Besides soy protein, plant proteins are not complete protein sources.  Therefore, by pairing incomplete protein foods (i.e. beans and rice together), it forms complementary proteins and ensures one obtains enough of the limiting amino acids.

The best way to ensure you’re obtaining all necessary vitamins and minerals in your daily meals is to keep a variety of foods on hand.  Of course, protein can be found in beans, nuts, nut butters, peas and soy products.  Aside from all of the essential amino acids, people on a vegan diet also need adequate intake of iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B-12, which are found abundantly in animal foods. Leafy greens, dried fruits and fortified breakfast cereals will help you to add these important nutrients to the vegan diet.

While all animal proteins, soy and quinoa are complete proteins, other plant based proteins, such as whole grains, beans and nuts are incomplete, but when combined with other foods forms essential amino acid.  Legumes, such as peas, lentils, peanuts and beans, are great to eat when paired with whole grains. Some common combinations include black bean and corn salad with brown rice, split pea soup with barley, peanut butter on whole wheat toast and/or pinto beans in a whole wheat pita. Legumes provide an essential amino acid called lysine, which is low in many grains. Whole grains provide methionine and cysteine, which are low in legumes, or beans, peas, lentils and peanuts.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians may have an easier time pairing foods since they eat dairy and eggs, which are great sources of complete proteins. Haricot beans, lentil and rice

Suggested combinations:

  • Dairy and grains
  • Dairy and seeds
  • Dairy and legumes
  • Grains and seeds
  • Grains and legumes
  • Legumes and seeds

What food pairings work best in your life? What struggles have you found when pairing foods together?

Sources: http://www.bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2011/09/what-are-complementary-proteins-and-how-do-we-get-them

http://www.nutrition411.com/content/complementary-proteins-origins-and-recipes

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio104/compprot.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html

http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/dietarytherapy/a/Vegetarian.htm

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-lentils-whole-grain-rice-2159.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002222.htm

Pulse Foods


photo_gallery_calcium_rich_foods_08_full-250x250By: Nikki Nies

When you hear of the word pulse, I’m sure your head goes instantly to heart rate and good health. Mine does too.  However,recently, the world “pulse” has been paired with foods and has started to have a good, yet different meaning–“dried seed.” Pulse foods are known for good health, but are specifically known as chickpeas/garbanzo beans, beans, legumes and lentils. Pulses are a type of food that are grown in a pod, packed with protein, fiber and phytochemicals, which are known to have anticarcinogenic effects!  On top of that, since they are nitrogen-fixing crops, they improve the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems!

Additionally, pulses can be counted as a vegetable and protein. Like other plant based foods, pulses are cholesterol free, limited sodium and fat and full of iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

Check out the nutrient content of certain pulses in comparison with a reference:

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The concept of pulses isn’t new, as these dry products have been used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines for centuries.  Yet, pulses are finally getting the nutrient recognition they deserve and with their versatility, you’re guaranteed to not get bored with these foods.

 If you’re interested in adding more pulses into your meals, why not:

  • Add lentils, chickpeas or beans to chili, curries, taco meat, meatloaf, (minestrone)soup,stir frys, tostados,  salads or spaghetti sauce

The best part? Pulse foods can be incorporated into any meal, dish or snack! For my diabetic, vegetarian and gluten free friends, you can join in the fun too! What’s your favorite way to incorporate pulses into your meals? Have any recipes you have to share?

Photo Credit:India Mart

Sources:http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1508.pdf

http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/what-is-a-pulse

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/pulse

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/landing-pages/food-and-nutrition/pulse-foods-in-your-diet-fn-1714

Cleaner Eating on a Budget


By: Nikki Nies IMG_9404

I recently wrote about the proper measures one may need to take to ensure home safety.  While, that is important, it’s equally important to recognize how all healthy eatomh can fit into a household budget.  Obviously, I don’t know what your family and/or financial circumstances are, but I can make generalizations that you care about your family’s well being, that you want to know where your food is coming from and if you can save a buck or two while eating frugally, why not?

If you found yourself nodding ‘yes’ to any or all of my above generalizations, then proceed to my next point. There seems to be three kind of grocery shoppers, those that stick to non-GMO, organic, pesticide, hormone and antibiotic free, those that pick and choose the foods that are “cleanly” bought while opting to buy the nonorganic counterparts when desired.  And then there’s those like me, may recognize the benefits of “cleaner” produce and products, that are non-GMO, organic, antibiotic, hormone and/or pesticide free, but don’t see how those concepts fit into  our budget.

I can’t help, but look at prices.  However, I’ve doing a lot of reading lately and I firmly believe that these distinctive three groups could be under one umbrella, purchasing cleaner foods in a cost effective manner.

Friendly Suggestions on How to Stretch Food Dollars:4colorsealgif

  • Stick to foods that have the 100% organic, “organic” made with organic ingredients–skip the sections that have “natural”, “hormone free” and/or “free range.”
  • Opt for generic organic brands
  • For each week, plan meals around circular sales and/or dry goods you already have to spare at home
  • Compare different organic variations, including dried, fresh, canned or frozen.  When cooked correctly, all these organic variations can be  equally delicious!
  • Shop around to find “your” store! Perhaps, a closer grocery store has a better organic variety and/or generic options!
  • Always make a grocery list!
  • Join a local food cooperative to learn the latest local news on events, programs and locations to purchase organic products
  • Plant or join a local community garden to grow your own organic produce
  • Limit meat to less than three times a week as meat is naturally more expensive than vegetables, legumes and beans
  • Clip coupons or gather from online newsletters or magazine subscriptions
  • Shop at supermarkets that carry their own generic organic brands (i.e. Aldi)
  • Check out local farmer’s market
  • Buy in season
  • Buying in bulk will not only be less expensive long term due to larger quantity, but due to less packaging costs

I promise, with my next grocery trip, I’m heading straight to the organic section! For those that have been eating only or predominantly organic, how are you able to stretch the dollars?  How can we best incorporate organic foods into our lives seamlessly?

Photo Credit: Back to Her Roots 

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-to-eat-organic-foods-on-a-budget

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/going-organic-budget

Functional Foods


Functional-foods-at-the-forefront-of-innovation-and-adulteration-says-USP_strict_xxlBy: Nikki Nies

 As consumers, we’re always looking for the best deal, option and/or product that offers the most features or characteristics.  That type of decision making is strongly integrated in what people choose to consume and eat.  If you’re looking for foods to maximize the nutritional benefits, you may want to take a closer look at functional foods.  Specifically, functional foods are known to have the potential to offer a positive effect beyond basic nutrition.  Consumption of functional foods can not compensate for other poor eating habits.

Some foods are naturally considered functional, while others are modified to become more functional.  Foods are categorized as a conventional food (i.e. grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits), additives, modified foods (i.e. yogurt, cereal, and orange juice) , dietary supplement, medical food (i.e. special formulations of foods and beverages) or for specific dietary use (i.e. infant formula).  For example, oatmeal’s naturally a functional food that contains soluable fiber to lower cholesterol levels.  Orange juice is a modified functional food that is often fortified with calcium to improve bone health.

Suggested functional foods: Functional-Foods-300x232

  • Cold Water Fish: such as salmon and/or sardines, contain a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids–may lower overall risk of heart disease, reduce joint pain, improve brain development and function; recommended to consume at least eight ounces of fish per week
  • Whole grains: such as barley–a fiber rich food that can also lower one’s cholesterol levels and help control blood sugars.
  • Nuts: can help control blood sugars, cashews and almonds are also great sources of magnesium, which is known to lower one’s blood pressure
  • Beans: Potassium, fiber, protein and folate rich, beans are an all around optimal functional food! Opt for low sodium beans if you’re purchasing canned! By rinsing beans prior to consumption can also reduce sodium content by up to 40%
  • Berries: All types of berries are not only low in calories, but contain the pigment anthocyanin, which delays or prevents cell damage.

One may argue all foods provide a function, which is true, but in terms of what the health world considers functional may have a different connotation in mind.  Again, functional foods are praised for their additional benefits to promote optimal health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases–such as cancer or heart disease.  There is no standard definition that foods adhere to be considered functional, but the FDA regulates manufacturers’ claims regarding health and nutrition promotion, impact on body and/or nutrient content.

It takes a little bit of discernment to push through the bombardment of health and nutrition claims manufacturers confuse consumers with, but by incorporating more berries, beans, barley, nuts and/or salmon into your daily meals is a great start!

Sources: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442472528

http://www.drrodney.com/wellness/functional-foods/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/functional-foods/faq-20057816

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9491

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/Functional-foods-at-the-forefront-of-innovation-and-adulteration-says-USP

Legume Land


intro-legumes-photo2By: Nikki Nies

Often times, it’s recommended to get your fair share of beans and legumes.  Every one knows what beans are: black, kidney, lima, pinto and garbanzo.  Yet, how quickly can you roll of your tongue legumes? I sure have to think about it for a second.

Legumes deserve the acclaim they receive next to beans.  Beans are part of the legume family, yet there are more to the legumes than beans.  Make sense?

They’re low in fat, high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium and contain no cholesterol!  Additionally, they’re a great filler upper instead of meat,which can be high in fat and cholesterol.

Yes, legumes are often associated with soups and stews, they do play a great part, but tossing some edamame (yes it’s a legume) on your salad is always a plus.

Common Legumes: edamame, peas, peanuts, lentils, beans,

Legumes are great for salads, casseroles, snacks, stews, soups and rice dishes.Legumes are often canned or dried, which are great to have on hand at all times for last minute additions to your meals. Now that you’re well versed in legumes, why not try your hand at Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage.  Let me know what you think!

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/legumes/art-20044278

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/legumes/

http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/legumes.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11718588

FODMAPS


By: Nikki Nies

With the bombardment of the latest nutrition tips, FODMAPS has entered the forefront of the cause of some people’s issues tolerance of foods.  Researchers are hinting that those that declare they must be on a gluten free diet would be better off becoming familiar with the FODMAPS diet.

diagram-fodmapI’m not here to attest to such claims, as further research needs to be done. Yet, it’s still important to be aware and knowledgeable of what FODMAPS consist of and why they’re being considered responsible for abdominal pain, bloating, wind and altered bowel habit through fermentation and osmotic effects.

The FODMAPS diet is traditionally prescribed for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID).  FODMAPS can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine.  It’s thought that restricting the types of carbohydrates one consumes can provide relief and diminish symptoms.

Since this type of restriction is very intense, it’s recommended to seek guidance from a Registered Dietitian (RD).  The process of removal and reintroduction of foods is usually over a six week period.After cutting out , wheat, rye, onions,legumes,soft cheese, yogurt, milk, honey, apples, pears, sorbitol, etc. for the recommended time, one may start using a teaspoon of honey in their tea or adding a cup of milk to cereal.

From then on, one will test the reaction of foods and listen to gut.  Pun intended.

Check out the comprehensive list of foods that are limited in the beginning stages of FODMAPS and then slowly reintroduced:

The-Fodmaps-Diet4-1024x577

 Again, adopting this diet without discussing with your primary care physician and/or a Registered Dietitian (RD) can lead to unwanted outcomes.  The number priority is maintaining one’s safe and health!

Sources: http://stanfordhospital.org/digestivehealth/nutrition/DH-Low-FODMAP-Diet-Handout.pdf

http://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388522/

http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24076059

http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/mal-absorption.html

The FODMAPs Diet

Spanish Food Staples


mexicanBy: Nikki Nies

As the ethnic diversity of this nation  evolves, it’s important to stay on top of what people are buying as well what’s being sold in stores.  To ignore such trends limits one’s ability to connect to the masses and inhibits one’s ability to provide the best counseling and ed possible. The American census continues to grow, with Spanish American cuisine permeating through New Mexico to New York.  This type of food is also demanded by the American population.  With a rich history from the beginning of time, many Spanish Americans stay true to their family and cultural traditions to this day.  Many of the dishes made to this day have been passed down from past generations, with Goya products a necessary product on hand. I admit it’s not fair to clump all Hispanic cuisines together, there are some commonalities that can’t be denied.

To provide the best overview of such food staples, it only made sense to provide all information that one might encounter in an ethnic restaurant or within a Spanish community.

Food Description Use
Achiote Paste (Recado Rojo) Rust colored flavorful paste; made from the annatto seed; can substitute achiote oil for paste; originally a Mayan blend  seasoning for meat and vegetables
Avocado/Guacamole Can be mild, medium or spicy; can be smooth or chunky; can include mayo or not As condiment or dip
Beans Up to 20% of bean can be composed of proteins; easily grown; inexpensive; plentiful—can be used in a side dish or main dish Can be cooked with onions; epazote, pork crackling; frijoles puercos (“pig beans”); frijoles charros (“ranch style beans”); can be boiled or refried
Chayote Prickly fruit of chayotera; delicate, almost sweet flavor; Sweet and savory dishes; cooked with raisins, sugar, cinnamon and butter; can be eaten with salt and topped with cream cheese
Chiles 6 varieties; generally has high vitamin C content; diuretic, appetite stimulant and to cure some skin infections Can be stuffed and used as a main dish
Mexican Chorizo Spicy pork sausage
Maize/Corn Large grain plant domesticated by indigenous people; leafy stalk Used for tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tortillas; tamales
Mamey Red, smooth, sweet and delicate pulp An excellent oil to nourish hair
Papaya Firm flesh; yellow with delicate aroma and flavor
Pepper Can be sweet, tangy or spicy Most common: bell peppers; also use jalapeno, habanero, poblano or serrano
Queso Fresco Fresh Mexican cheese with crumbly texture; slightly acidic flavor
Tamarind Pods Tropical fruit; similar to lemon or lime juice For sweet and sour taste
Tomatillo Tart flavor; neighbor of gooseberry Chillaquilles
Tortillas Flat bread often made from f corn or flour Used in enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, burritos; often warmed to make soft
Zapote Soft, red paste consistency; aromatic; with intense flavor Smoothies

 

While I had to research staples, what foods have I missed?  What are some foods that you keep in your pantry or use in your dishes?

Sources: http://www.foodbycountry.com/Spain-to-Zimbabwe-Cumulative-Index/United-States-Latino-Americans.html http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/articles/mexican-cooking-101-terms-and-substitutions.html%5B/embed%5D http://whatfoodlookslike.com/ http://www.inside-mexico.com/easymexicanrecipes/mexicanstapleingredients.htm

http://hispanic-culture-online.com/latin-food.html

http://www.safaritheglobe.com/food_mexico.aspx http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/food-staple/?ar_a=1

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/traditional-foods-mexico-13609.html

Equipping Your Kitchen with Mexican Staples