I don’t know about you, but the holiday season makes me yearn to bake. I have fond memories of my mother making homemade kolachi, sugar cookies and Italian cakes every Christmas. Whether you’re making cut out cookies for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza or serving your favorite bread at a holiday meal, let’s face it. Butter beats margarine…hands down.
In addition to butter tasting better than margarine, it’s also more natural. While butter is a source of calories and saturated fat, it’s actually considered healthier than margarine (especially stick margarine) because it’s lower in trans fat. Butter also contains vitamins A and E and the ingredient list is minimal.
If you haven’t already heard, trans fat is going bye-bye. This year, the FDA announced it is banning trans fat in food for good! Trans fat is produced when hydrogen is added to a liquid fat (like corn or vegetable oil) to produce a solid fat. It is cheaper to use commercially than butter and has similar baking qualities. You can find trans fat in food by reading the label and looking for the terms “hydrogenated or “partially hydrogenated” oil in the ingredients. Currently, there may be up to .5 grams of trans fat in a serving of food and be allowed to be labeled ZERO. Sorry to say folks, those .5 grams add up! Trans fat is also prevalent in fast food. A few states (New York and California) have already banned trans fat in their fast food and many other fast food chains have followed. Now it’s time for all manufacturers to get serious about deleting this heinous fake fat from our diets.
Trans fat in food has been linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths according to the Heart Association. The American Heart Association advises no more than 2 grams of trans fat in our diets daily. This is actually less than the amount we should limit from saturated fat. If you’re eating fast food, margarine, commercial cookies, snack chips or crackers, you’re probably getting plenty.
The good news is you can buy butter with less saturated fat. Land O Lakes, Smart Balance and other brands offer a blend of butter with added canola oil. What I love best about these spreads is they’re lower in calories, lower in saturated fat and typically don’t have all the fluff ingredients (read yellow dye number 2) that margarine contains. Most contain cream, canola oil and salt. Simple AND tasty.
So this holiday season- bring the butter back! I feel sorry for all the companies producing margarine. Your time is nearly up.
It seems like the number of people complaining of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) has gone up. IBS is a condition of the large intestine (colon) that may cause pain, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. And while IBS does not cause permanent damage to your large bowel, it can make you miserable when it flares up.
Scientists recognize that stress has an impact on IBS, as well as certain types of carbohydrates. With holiday season in full swing, IBS may flare up for certain people, especially if stress isn’t managed well. Slow down this holiday season!
In the past five to ten years, scientists have discovered that reducing certain types of carbohydrates may help alleviate the symptoms of IBS. These carbohydrates are known as FODMAPS. The term FODMAP sounds strange, but stands for Fermentable carbohydrates, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. Foods containing these types of carbohydrates may be poorly absorbed in those with IBS.
Foods containing lactose (dairy) as well as high amounts of fructose (fruit) may exacerbate IBS. Gallacto-oligosaccharides in beans, lentils and soybeans may also increase gas production in the colon, exacerbating IBS. Polyols from sugar-free products (read sorbitol or mannitol, often found in gum) as well as cherries, apricots and apples may affect IBS as well. In addition, gluten (found in wheat, rye and products containing barley) may also be poorly absorbed in those with IBS.
And while it pains me to have an image of “NO APPLES”, this is only meant for people with IBS. Below is a guide to a FODMAPS diet.
Almond, rice or soy milk. These dairy-free products are low in lactose, which appears to be poorly absorbed in those with IBS.
Cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains lactose, as does yogurt and ice cream. Soymilk may contain galacto-oligosaccharides, which are not absorbed well.
Green beans, kale, lettuce, spinach, tomato, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, Swiss chard, bok choy, bean sprouts. All are low in inulin, a substance that can increase gas and bacteria production in the large bowel.
Artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, onions, peppers, sugar snap peas. These contain inulin, which may promote gas production. Avoid breakfast or snack bars containing inulin or chickory root as well.
Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, Clementines, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, papaya, pineapple and strawberries. These are lower in fructose.
Apples, apricots, cherries, figs, peaches, mango, pears, plum, watermelon. All are higher in fructose, which may increase gas production.
Corn or rice-based pasta, corn flakes, puffed rice, oatmeal, oat bran, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, tapioca. These foods are gluten-free.
Wheat, wheat bread or pasta, bran cereal, shredded wheat, rye-containing products, barley, beer. All contain gluten, a protein found to be poorly absorbed in those suffering IBS. Read the label for products containing wheat or gluten.
Cashews and pistachios. These are lowest in galacto-saccharides.
Peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds. The jury is still out on almonds, macadamia and other nuts. If you find that they increase your discomfort, cut them from your diet for a few weeks to see if it helps.
For a more complete guide to FODMAPS, click on the link below.
Craving chocolate this holiday season? Don’t just grab a brownie made from a box. Yuck! Try this deliciously different, spicy hot cocoa recipe!
For starters, cocoa is loaded with disease-fighting anti-oxidants. Who knew? Yup, it’s even higher than green tea. The addition of cinnamon and chili powder add another dose of antioxidants as well as flavor. Cinnamon may also impact blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity. Bonus! Opt for 1% milk to keep fat content low while consuming a whopping dose of calcium, B vitamins and protein. Ole’!
4 cups 1% milk
¼ cup unprocessed cocoa powder
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. chili powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Add all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until mixture is simmering.
Makes 4 (8 oz cups). Nutrition facts per serving: 160 calories, 3 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 1.6 grams fiber, 9 grams protein, 12 mg cholesterol, 108 mg sodium, 330 mg calcium.
I often hear my patients say “I just don’t have time to grocery shop or cook healthy meals”. Yet, they have plenty of time to watch the final episode of Breaking Bad four times, get their hair and nails done… fill in the blank.
Being healthy is a choice. Yes, you’re stuck with the genetics your parents gave you, but eating healthy food is under your control.
Rather than finding excuses not to shop, why not make a goal to hit the store at least once/week for a bag of apples, oranges or frozen vegetables?
Keep a fruit bowl on your counter and toss a piece in your lunch daily. Eat it for a snack or on the way home from work.
Now is the perfect time to get out your crock pot for those days you “don’t have time to cook”. It takes no more than 5 minutes to toss frozen chicken breasts, brown rice, mixed veggies and a few spices into a crock pot. Dinner is done by the time you are home. No drive-through needed.
Make extra servings of dinner entrees and freeze them for lunch the following week. This will save you time and money-you won’t need fast food for lunch.
Keep canned beans and eggs on hand for quick suppers. My daughters love to have “breakfast for dinner”. Buy frozen chopped onions, peppers and spinach to toss into omelets. No chopping needed!
You have one body. Take good care of it!