Friday, November 25, 2011

There are two main rules for getting the most out of your vegetables:

– one is eat lots of different colored vegetables (not just the green ones)
and the other is never ever boil them. Boiling vegetables is a food crime. Besides nuking important nutrients, it also kills off delicate flavors, giving good vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts a bad name. If you ever wondered why Australia’s vegetable intake is low, boiling deserves some of the blame.
But while we’ve learned that lightly steaming is the best way to preserve flavor as well as nutrients like vitamin C in cooked vegetables, how well do other methods like roasting and stir-frying do when it comes to locking the food value in?
They’re pretty good, according to nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton in her latest book, The Choice Guide to Food – how to look after your health, your budget, and the planet.
“There’s not a lot of difference between stir-frying and steaming, as long as the stir-fried vegies are still crisp,” she says.
Stanton rates roasting as the next best way to preserve nutrients, especially if you wrap vegetables in foil. Stewing vegetables – as you might do in ratatouille or in a casserole - is okay too. You might lose some of the vitamin C and the B vitamin folate but most of it will go into the cooking liquid and be part of the meal, she adds. That’s assuming you don’t soak your vegetables in water first - another good way to sacrifice vitamin C.
But sometimes cooking can make it easier to get some nutrients from vegetables - carotenoids, an important group of around 600 plant chemicals found in brightly colored fruit and vegetables, are absorbed better from cooked vegetables than raw. That doesn’t mean you have to cook every carrot – they still contribute useful amounts of carotenoids in their raw state, says Stanton who suggests eating some of your vegetables raw, and some of them cooked.

As for what to dress your vegetables with, olive oil vinaigrette trumps fat free dressing every time.
“Carotenoids are absorbed better when some fat is eaten at the same meal – so adding a dressing with extra virgin olive oil or cooking tomatoes in olive oil helps to absorb these valuable compounds,” Stanton explains. "Make sure to always use olive oil (or any oil for that matter) sparingly, as it is pure fat, virtually zero nutrients. The fat you eat is the fat you wear."
But whatever the cooking method, the fibre content of vegetables is bullet proof and won’t be lost – even if your beans are soggy.

Along with the right cooking techniques, there are other ways of getting more bang for your buck with vegetables. Many nutrients work better as a team than all by themselves – which helps explain why eating a broad mix of fresh food is good for us. You’ll absorb more iron if you eat a vitamin C rich food with your iron food, for instance – think tomatoes or red capsicum with a plant source of iron like red kidney beans.
Tossing avocado into a salad can also make a difference. Along with its own package of vitamins and minerals, it has a similar effect to adding olive oil – the healthy fat helps us capture more nutrients. In a study at Ohio University, researchers found that the fat in avocado helped to absorb more of the antioxidant lycopene and more carotenoids from tomatoes. The same researchers found that when volunteers ate a salad they absorbed four times as much lutein from the leafy greens when avocado was added to the mix – lutein is the antioxidant credited with protecting against vision loss from macular degeneration.
Another winning combination could be broccoli paired with spicy salad vegetables like radish, rocket or watercress – University of Illinois researchers say that an enzyme in these hot flavored vegetables boosts broccoli’s cancer fighting properties.

If all this inspires you to get cooking with vegetables, there's a goldmine of ideas on the Well column of the New York Times - a collection of great vegetable recipes for Thanksgiving that can work for an Aussie Christmas.
The Choice Guide to food: how to look after your health, your budget, and the planet by Rosemary Stanton is published by Choice, RRP 29.95

Submitted by Peter

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Truth

There is a saying, "People tend to lie to themselves, rather than face the truth."

Even when science and logic are right in front of our faces, sometimes we choose not to believe it. That may mean having to change a belief, or habit, what we are used to. It points to a flaw in our human nature- our imperfection.

"Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it." Blaise Pascal, 1660.

"Some like to understand what they believe in. Others like to believe in what they can understand." Stanislaw J. Lec.

Those that do change their lifestyles, their eating and drinking habits, for their own good and for the good of the earth, will reep the rewards. Those that continue to lie to themselves, well, let's just say "will make their own beds."

If you can make the foundation of your diet whole natural foods, good clean water, and freshly juiced fruits or vegetables, you will have the best chance for great health, to be at your best.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Golden what?

Ah yes... the "Golden Arches"...

As I drive all over the U.S. on my job as a school assembly presenter, I see lots of miles, and lots of fast food logos on exit signs wherever I go, enticing travelers to stop and partake in their unhealthy offerings. One day a few weeks ago, I had a revelation as I noticed yet another one of these exit signs, with McDonald's at the forefront of the group. Suddenly "The Golden Arches" took on a whole new meaning: The shape of the arches themselves can be likened to the shape of "tombstones!"

"The Golden Tombstones", "Eat here and die sooner."

Later that night at a motel, as I soaked in my nightly hot bath in the dark (my "yoga"), I came up with the idea the arches also look like "Moses' Tablets". "Thou Shalt Not Eat Here."

Back to the exit signs. Sometimes there are gas stations listed with restaurants on the same sign. I saw one yesterday with a Shell logo with the word "Gas" underneath, next to a McDonald's logo with the word "Food" underneath.
It should read like this: Shell logo with the word "Gas" underneath, next to the McDonald's logo with the word "Junk" underneath.

If you are what you eat, and you eat junk, what does that make you?

Regarding Ronald McDonald houses- for people with cancer, isn't it ironic that McDonald's promotes cancer with their unhealthy food, then gets great advertising from their "humanitarian" cancer houses? It's a vicious, profitable cycle. Just yet another example of a world turned upside down.

The only way change will occur is if people stop patronizing McDonald's and the like. If we start showing fast food restaurants we refuse to jeopardize our health by consuming their unhealthy junk food, maybe the fast food execs will educate themselves on what is healthy and what is not/be turned on to the teachings of ie: John McDougall, MD and others, and instead offer healthy fast food, or at the least healthier fast food. It is already being done on a small scale across the U.S.
Unfortunately this scenario is light years away. We need to start voting with our dollars folks. Meanwhile, fast food bigwigs will continue to profit handsomely from the unsuspecting, uninformed, obese public.

Peter adds: "For a long time I have been somewhat cynical about Ronald McDonald house as they call it here in Australia. It's for kids suffering from cancer and other diseases. The world would have a lot less cancer cases if their unhealthy foods weren't so ubiquitous! I'm sure McDonald's execs however justify the sale of their junk food in their own minds. All in the name of profits of course! Introducing truly healthy foods into their menu is just too risky as they see it. By risky I mean less profitable. Oh, but we create jobs, or that's what the market wants, we provide cheap food for people with less money, and so on the weak arguments continue.
Can we possibly hope that in 20 or 30 years there will actually be a few 'healthy' options on their menu?"

So the next time you see the "Golden Arches", on an exit sign or on the restaurant itself, see if the arches don't remind you of tombstones,
or Moses' tablets. "Thou shalt not eat here!"

"Pass the pink slime and meat glue"...

You’re not going to believe what you’ve been eating the last few years (thanks meat industry lobbyists!) when you eat a McDonald’s burger (or the hamburger patties in kids’ school lunches) or buy conventional ground meat at your supermarket.

"It’s “the cheapest, least desirable beef on offer — fatty sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor, which are notoriously rife with pathogens like E. coli 0157 and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. (Beef Products, Inc. or BPI) sends the scraps through a series of machines, grinds them into a paste, separates out the fat, and laces the substance with ammonia to kill pathogens. With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use this "pink slime" as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of this processed beef last year alone. And since the USDA considers it a "process", ammonia (which is poisonous) doesn't have to be listed on the packaging as a separate ingredient!"

Also, check out this 5 minute video on of all things: "meat glue".

Comment from a reader: "Our society has become so profit driven, that money has become more important than the citizens. This only proves that lobbyists have their strong hold on law makers. But at what cost? It may make the beef farmers a little more profit. However, the health risks and costs that will mount up from people getting sick or even die just doesn't seem to be worth it, even from an economical stand point.
I bet the people that passed this don't feed their families this kind of product. Seems that only the less fortunate, and poor will get stuck eating this kind of garbage."

From someone else: "The industrialization of food production, specifically the way animals are raised, slaughtered and processed, and the resulting consequences, is really the central issue. The humane treatment of the animals is at best an afterthought, as is the welfare of all the humans who consume these products. The driving force is profit for corporations, who care about nothing else except the bottom line.
Why are we always shocked when the food produced is tainted, or lethal?
It's just a natural result of abusing nature, being oblivious to animal rights, and placing profit above everything else."