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As we close the chapter on 2017, many of us think of plans we made for the past year and failed to accomplish. This blog, as a part of my theme “To Nourish Body and Spirit,” emphasizes good nutrition. We make resolutions or goals at the beginning of each year to lose weight or improve eating choices. Sometimes we chastise ourselves mentally because we failed to achieve those goals. Instead, why not focus on things we did right? We can’t undo the past, but we can forge ahead on positives.

Here are points to consider.

  1. Remember the positive choices you made throughout the year to choose healthy foods.
  2. Reflect on your greatest accomplishments in making wise food choices.
  3. Ponder constructive decisions about relationships and foods that made you feel good.
  4. Recall walks or exercise you attempted.
  5. Think about the times you abided by safety rules to keep foods safe.
  6. Likewise, meditate on the way you nourished your spirit. Hints. More prayer, Bible study, sharing with the less fortunate. You finish the list.
  7. Identify five things from 2017 that gave you joy and contentment, and consider how you can expand those experiences in the future.

Many throughout our nation and worldwide experienced devastating natural phenomena or mass shootings during 2017. Yet, several expressed thanks in the midst of hurricanes, floods, fires, and senseless carnal disasters. You, too, can find joy and blessings in many seemingly negative situations. When you do, hold onto them, nurture them. God bless you as you strive to improve your attitude and live your life to the fullest in the year ahead. Contemplate the positives, especially in your eating habits, and make joyfulness and thankfulness your companions throughout 2018.

Pf, Pf2018, Pf 2018, New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers  

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As a preschooler, I loved to traipse behind my Daddy as he strolled our small farm. One of my many favorite places in the early fall was to walk down the hill to the farmer next to us who grew and processed sorghum.

I watched, mesmerized, as the small homemade mill thrashed and transformed sorghum stalks into thick goofy syrup. Most haven’t had the privilege of watching this process of turning healthy molasses into a mainstay at the dinner table. In our family, homemade hot biscuits dripped with the tantalizing tart flavored syrup. As years passed, the old farm mill nearby vanished, but not my acquired taste for its product.

I’m surprised when people outside the south are unfamiliar with our cultural treasure. Grocery stores do not carry the type of sorghum southerners eat. It’s found in select locations, without added ingredients or preservatives. A few places in several states are noted for their production. The true southern cook checks the origin of the product and uses only pure sorghum. At a food trade show in the fall of 2017, I became excited when I saw a booth promoting sorghum. Yes, it was made in one of those acceptable places for southern cooks, but that was all. A closer look revealed it was a sweet sugar cane syrup with slight flavoring of sorghum. Unfortunately, the man at the booth knew zilch about sorghum.

What is so good about this delicacy? The flavor is unique. Don’t mistake this product for syrups made from sugar cane. This tasty sweetness contains a host of nutrients from vitamins to minerals. It has a significant amount of vitamin B6 plus potassium, magnesium, and iron with lesser amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and zinc. One tablespoon of syrup supplies about 60 calories.

A google search revealed that others, like me, refer to this delectable syrup as sorghum molasses. I wondered why our modern era calls it sorghum syrup. According to varied google responses, the sugar cane industry hijacked the term molasses to use in conjunction with their sweetener―sugar.

I found few internet sources for real sorghum, most with exorbitant prices. When you acquire this “can’t-do-without” product, try these cookies. The recipe is online. Rest assured, coming from my kitchen, the sorghum I used was the real thing. Use this delightful healthy, tangy golden brown syrup in your fall cooking.

Molasses cookies uncookedGinger cookies cookedhttps://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/big-soft-ginger-cookies

Will eating a bedtime snack affect your weight? It may. Researchers in Boston recruited college students to determine if biological clocks had any effect on gaining weight. Researchers hospitalized participants for one night to determine when their melatonin, the hormone that signals a person’s biological night, began to rise. Levels of melatonin elevate when the body shifts to the night phase of our circadian rhythm.

In the study, both lean and heavier participants had similar times for the onset of melatonin. Those with higher percentages of fat tended to eat closer to the time for melatonin to begin rising than participants who were leaner. Those with excessive weight consumed most of their calories about an hour before the rise of melatonin.

We can’t determine the exact times when night begins for our bodies because it requires specific measurements. However, melatonin levels tend to climb about two hours prior to our normal sleep-time pattern. With that as our guide, food eaten about two hours or less before normal bedtime may make a difference in weight. In the Boston study, actual clock time, exercise or activity, number of calories eaten, or amount of sleep did not affect the difference in the amount of weight between lean and less lean participants. Food eaten prior to the rise of an individual’s melatonin did make a difference.

What does this study mean to us, especially if we want to lose weight? Will eating well before bedtime improve our weight? Maybe. Eating late-night meals or snacks as well as in the middle of the night may influence weight gain more than if we ate the same number of calories earlier in the day. This is not a license to eat more calories during the day, but wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t as likely to gain as much weight as eating the same number of calories at bedtime?

Several factors may influence weight and sleep time. Eating later in the day causes a rise in blood glucose levels. Those who consume most of their calories earlier in the day are more likely to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

  • Eat heavier meals with high protein for breakfast and lunch.
  • Eat smaller portions at dinner.
  • Avoid alcohol at bedtime.

Especially as we approach extended holidays, try to limit higher calorie foods in the late afternoon and evening. What do we have to lose except weight?

 

October 31st is a fun time. Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, mingles tricks of fictitious goblins and ghosts with treats of candy. Derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals, the holiday is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve and remains a celebration in many parts of the world. In the United States, it is the second most popular holiday, after Christmas, for decorating, candy, and costume sales.

Puritan traditions in the early years of our nation restricted the holiday. During the 19th century, the migration of some two million Irish brought Halloween to the United States. Trick-or-treat became the main event of this holiday for children in our country and Canada. Children shuffle from house to house seeking goodies, especially candy. Both children and adults dress in costumes of favorite characters.

Commercialization of Halloween in the U. S. began around the turn of the 20th century. According to the National Confectioners Association, each year more than 75 percent of Americans plan to give candy to trick-or-treaters. And Americans’ favorite Halloween candy? Chocolate, of course, with candy corn in second place.

Halloween is the largest candy-eating event of the year. Other than gaining weight or developing tooth decay, are there dangers in eating too much candy? The American Chemical Society gave this some thought in 2016 and concluded that sugar from large amounts of candy consumed in one sitting might be lethal. The probability is unlikely since most would become sick before eating enough to harm them. Based on research and mathematical equations using rats, theoretically, 1,627 pieces of candy corn eaten in one sitting could be toxic to humans. One fun-size piece of candy has about 75 calories. Eating 262 pieces equates to about 20,000 calories. If it doesn’t kill you, your conscience may as you figure out how to work off those added pounds.

While dying from an overload of Halloween candy isn’t likely, use caution in making your choices. If you are over 40, consuming two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks may cause irregular heart rhythm. The sweetening compound, glycyrrhizin, in black licorice may lower potassium levels in the body resulting in high blood pressure and other heart-related problems. This candy can also interact with medications, herbal products, and dietary supplements.

As you observe this special holiday of sweet treats, keep in mind the outcomes of eating too many sweets. Teach children about moderation. The American Heart Association warns against allowing them to have large amounts of candy. Set a good example and use discretion in how much you eat. Make the holiday a treat but avoid the trick of too many calories.

 

 

Why Eat Mushrooms?

September is National Mushroom Month. Mushrooms add a pleasant touch and taste to many dishes, but they provide so much more. These unique food items constitute a class of their own. Mushrooms are fungi that are commonly placed into the vegetable category because of their nutritive value.

What do you know about this distinctive food?

  • Mushrooms are one of few foods in the American diet that is a natural source of Vitamin D.
  • They are naturally high in umami, the fifth taste sense along with salty, sweet, bitter, and sour.
  • They are low in sodium and calories.
  • Antioxidants in mushrooms help the immune system.

Mushrooms can be used in varied ways to help incrMushroom, Nature, White, Raindropease the nutritional value of many dishes. Consider these tips.

  • Replace part of the ground beef in dishes with mushrooms to lower fat and calories.
  • Replace sour cream and cheese on that baked potato with sautéed mushrooms with herb seasonings.
  • Make dishes more filling and increase the flavor with the addition of mushrooms.
  • Add spinach and mushrooms to scrambled eggs to increase vegetable portions in your diet.

Mushrooms are versatile as an ingredient or served as a side dish in place of vegetables. They are wholesome and rich in B vitamins and minerals, especially selenium which works as an antioxidant to protect body cells. Mushrooms contain about as much potassium as a small banana.

Mushrooms have shown potential in decreasing tumor growth in cancer. They help with weight loss because they are low in calories yet give a sense of fullness. They also blend well with many foods, especially meats.

The most popular mushroom is the white button. It makes up about 90% of mushrooms consumed. It has a mild flavor which intensifies with cooking. Other varieties include:

  • Crimini:     Richer and deeper in flavor. Great with wild game, beef, and mixed with cooked vegetables. High in antioxidants and low in calories with about 23 calories per serving.
  • Portabella: Deep meat-like texture and flavor. Often served as appetizers, entrees, or as side dishes.
  • Maritake:   Rippled and fan-shaped, called “Hen of the Woods.” Distinctive aroma with a woodsy taste.
  • Shiitake:    Needs to be cooked before eating. Brownish color with a meaty texture and rich, woodsy flavor. Slightly higher in calories with about 41 calories per serving.
  • Other choices with mild flavors include Enoki, Oyster, and Beech.

While most of us use mushrooms in favorite dishes, increasing the use may result in greater physical well-being when used in place of high sodium or fatty foods. At the same time, substitutions just may help us as we combat our personal battle with excess body fat.

Before September fades away, resolve to add this nutritious and versatile food to your meals.

Maybe you have been there. You lose weight and the next thing you know, you have gained it back, plus a little extra. Does this up-and-down process we call yo-yo dieting or weight cycling injure your health?

Sixty-eight percent of Americans over age 20 are obese or overweight. Of those, about 45 million are on a diet. As many as 65 percent of people who lose weight regain it within three years. For those who lose pounds rapidly, only five percent will sustain weight loss.

The controversy continues as to whether this practice harms otherwise healthy adults. Limited studies show the impact for crash dieting may result in frail bones, muscle atrophy, weakened immune system, and heart palpitations. However, weight cycling may be linked to stroke, heart attack, or death in people with preëxisting coronary heart disease (CHD).

Image result for free clip art for diets

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms that for those with heart disease, a yo-yo pattern of dieting may prove fatal. The study included nearly 10,000 men and women between ages 35 to 75 and spanned almost five years. All participants had high cholesterol levels at the beginning of the study. For those overweight or obese when the study began, weight fluctuation of up to 8.6 pounds accounted for 136 percent more strokes, 117 percent more heart attacks, and 124 percent more deaths. While results did not prove a cause and effect relationship, an association seemed to exist. The study also found that the onset of diabetes increased for those who demonstrated greater variability in weight.

The August 28, 2017 journal Obesity reported that individuals whose weight fluctuated over a two-year period did not fare as well in keeping weight off as did those who consistently lost weight at a slower pace.

What do these studies tell us? For a better outcome when losing weight, make the process slow and steady. Unlike weight cycling or yo-yo dieting, consistency in losing weight assures a greater possibility of keeping weight off and at the same time, it reduces potential harm to your body, especially if  you have CHD. Before you start another crash diet, consider your long term goal for weight loss and the price such a diet could cost you in compromised health.

HEALTHY MEAL 2

Who doesn’t want to extend years of life as long as possible? Researchers confirm that even after middle age, we can lengthen our life span. In a study of nearly 74,000 health professionals 60 years-of-age or older, those who shifted to better eating habits lived longer. What changes did they make? Those who increased the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains plus other healthy foods in their diets lowered their risk of premature death compared to those whose diets remained the same. Likewise, those who let their eating habits slip to less healthy fares in their older years increased their risks for dying.

Researchers used three scoring systems based on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean diet, and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. While those diets differ somewhat, all promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy, olive oil, and nuts. Some foods may include more of certain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, or other nutrients, but all of these received higher scores and are good options. In all diets, less healthy choices such as sweets, processed foods, and red meats received low scores. The higher the overall score, the lower the risk of premature death.

Even changing a few items, such as fish or legumes in place of red meat, made a slight difference.  Alice Lichtenstein, spokesperson for the American Heart Association stated, “The key is to make changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life.” She added, “There are no magic-bullet foods or nutrients.” The message isn’t new. However, many believe if they haven’t followed healthy eating rules throughout their lifetimes, change is hopeless. Not so. It’s never too late to improve eating habits.

Choosing healthy foods helps prevent an early death and assures that the years we live will be less hampered by the many diseases resulting from poor diets. Quality of life is a precious commodity for everyone, especially as we age. Making slight diet changes can improve physical well-being and make those extra years’ worth living. It’s a win-win choice.