Isoflavones


16272507722_28213d63d5_o
Original Image by Personal Creations via Flickr

 

By: Nikki Nies

The word isoflavones may suggest it is a flavanoid, but in actuality, isoflavones are phytochemicals found in soy and legumes, which block estrogen activity in cells, indirectly reducing risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Some isoflavones are phytoestrogens, which are non-steroidal, weak versions of estrogens.dietary sources of isoflavones include chick pea, alfalfa and peanut.

 

Sources: http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/i/isoflavone.htm

http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21778

Prebiotics


4319614500_e786aa21c2_o
Original Image by THOR via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Prebiotics are not synonymous with probiotics. While probiotics are the healthy bacteria found in cultured dairy foods, prebiotics are fermentable fibers that helps feed healthy bacteria in the gut. The healthy bacteria that live in the intestines use the prebiotics as a source of fuel. Prebiotics have been noted to help alleviate bouts of diarrhea, aiding in healthy bowel function and improving one’s immune system.  In addition, prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that allow probiotics to flourish.

Good sources of Prebiotics:

  • Fruits-berries and bananas
  • Vegetables: Garlic, artichokes, onions and some greens
  • Grains: flax, legumes, barley and whole grains, like oatmeal
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichokes

There are no specific guidelines as to how many grams of prebiotics we need to consume, but some research suggests between 3-8 grams per day.

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not influenced by heat, cold, acid or die with time. When prebiotics and probiotics are combined, they form a synbiotic. Synbiotics include yogurt and kefir, which are fermented dairy products that contain live bacteria.  Therefore, thankfully, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to obtain prebiotics in your meals! Who doesn’t love a great meal of oatmeal, berries and bananas?!

Photo Credit:eHealth101

Sources:http://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065

http://www.prebiotic.ca/prebiotic_fibre.html

http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/naldc/download.xhtml?id=57525&content=PDF

http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=13431

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Prebiotics-could-help-combat-meat-pathogens-says-USDA

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/probiotics

Safe Food Preservation


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Original Image by Jim Champion via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Fun Fact: Food preservation permeates all cultures.  And they say we’re all different, huh?

How often do you find yourself throwing food out because you didn’t have a chance to use it before it goes bad? Or how many times do you head to the checkout line at the grocery store with the maximum amount of produce allowed due to the great sale? While these conundrums may be a common issue for you, by canning and/or preserving your food, you can have your veggies and can them too! Pun intended!

There are so many preservation methods, depending on the foods, equipment and intentions with the food.  I’m by no means an expert on canning, but I’ve had first hand experience in the food saving systems it can do!

The list below is not an exhaustive list of food preservation, but it’s a good overview of the most common techniques used and a few unique modes of preservation for those more adventurous with their canning abilities.

Preservation Method Commonly Used Foods Fun Facts
Canning Wine; milk; vegetables; fruits; meat With canning, it destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes; the vacuum seal prevents other microorganisms from recontaminating food within jar or can; includes pressure canning and water bath canning
Cellaring Vegetables; grains; nuts; dry cured meats Storing foods in temperature, humidity and light controlled environment
Curing Meat; fish Earliest curing was dehydration; included use of salt to help dessicate foods; uses salts, acid and/or nitrites; may employ secondary method of fermenting, smoking or sealing
Dry Salting Meat; fish; vegetables Fermenting or pickling techniques; 2.5-5% salt concentration promotes fermentation; 20-25% salt promotes high salt concentration;
Drying Often with fish, game, domestic animals, fruits; herbs In ancient times, sun and wind would have naturally dried foods—with Asian and Middle Eastern countries actively drying foods as early as 12,000 B.C. ; in the Middle Ages they built “still houses” for the purpose of drying fruits, vegetables and herbs that didn’t have strong enough sunlight for drying
Fermenting Fruits–>wine; cabbage–>Kim chi or sauerkraut ; legumes; seafood; dairy; eggs; wine; cured sausage; yogurt; meats Fermentation has been used to create more nutritious and palatable foods from less than desirable ingredients; microorganisms that are responsible for fermentation can produce vitamins
Freezing Meats, vegetables, leftovers, fruit; eggs; nuts; prepared foods Common use includes cellars, caves and cool streams; chilling foods to at least 0°F
Jamming  Fruits With use of honey or sugar; in ancient Greece, quince was mixed with honey, dried and packed tightly into jars;
Pickling Wine; ciders; chutneys; mustards; relishes; ketchups and sauces Preservation of foods in vinegar or other acids; first fermented to alcohol and then alcohol’s oxidized by bacteria to acetic acid;
Sealing Legumes; seafood; dairy; eggs; wine; cured sausage; yogurt; meats Covers food to keep out air—delaying the activity of spoilage organisms; used as complementary process to other fermentation methods, i.e. freezing or drying; relatively inexpensive
Smoking Meats Improves flavor and appearance; can be used as a drying agent; by smoking, meats are less likely to turn rancid or grow mold than unsmoked

With all this said, what canning techniques have I left out that you think should be used consistently? Have any kitchen hacks you’re willing to share with canning? We’d love to hear them!

Learn how to preserve specific foods with OSU’s guide!

Sources: http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/

http://nchfp.uga.edu/

http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/safe-methods

http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation

http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/preservation.html

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-preservation

http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/food_pres_hist.html

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:

87

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

GI Soft Bland Diet


318197-364-48By: Nikki Nies

 A gastrointestinal (GI) Soft Bland Diet is commonly used for a variety of consumers, patients and reasons.  I recognize the GI Soft Bland diet is a long name for someone to adhere to, yet the use of it is multifaceted.  One might be placed on this diet: as a “transition” diet–from clear liquid to a general diet; due to gastrointestinal diseases (i.e. Crohn’s Disease, gastroparesis, diverticulitis); acid reflux and/or due to intolerance to spicy flavors.

A GI soft bland diet consists of low residue, low fiber foods.  These types of foods are soft in texture and easy to swallow and digest.  While the foods may be “lighter’ in texture, this type of diet is still nutritionally adequate.

It’s also important to identify the difference between a GI soft bland diet and mechanical soft.  These two diets are NOT interchangeable.  While a GI soft bland diet is for those that have a hard time swallowing, mechanical soft is for those that have difficulty chewing (i.e. those with dental problems).

Essentially, a GI soft bland diet provides one’s GI tract time to “rest”, prior to the reintroduction to a regular-high fiber diet.

  • Indigestible fiber is reduced by using cooked, tender or canned legumes and vegetables.
  • Seeds, nuts and skin must be removed and avoided (i.e. no strawberries due to seeds)
  • Limited to tender, soft cuts of meet–no pork roast or “tough” meats
  • Limit sharp and/or highly seasoned cheeses
  • Limit fried foods, rich gravies and sauces, lunch meats, sausages and/or hot dogs
  • Avoid high fiber grains, such as bran or whole wheat
  • Avoid desserts with chocolate, nuts, dates or raisins
  • No caffeine (i.e. coffee, tea, soda) or alcohol
  • Avoid gas forming veggies such as beans, corn, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, turnips, peppers, etc.
  • Avoid highly flavored salad dressings and/or condiments (i.e. mustard, Tabasco, sriracha)
  • Can eat bananas, but all other raw, fresh fruits should be avoided

While this diet’s recommendations are meant to provide comfort to its patients, one may need to make personal modifications!

Photo Credit: Buzzle

Sources: http://www.atlanticcoastgastro.com/the-bland-diet.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000068.htm

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/bland-gi-diet-3175.html

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/diverticulitis-treatment-overview

http://www.digestivehealthcare.net/diets/soft_diet.html

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/Documents/Digestive_Disease/logo%20%20Eating%20Right%20and%20Avoiding%20Dehydration%20after%20Bowel%20Surgery14666_AJK_.pdf

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