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Posts Tagged ‘fiber’

My family LOVES lentils. They’re one of our favourite legumes because they taste so great, they’re cost effective and you can use them in so many dishes. Lentil patties, vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian Shepard’s Pie, various casseroles and the list goes on…

A bag of green lentils (not cooked or canned) cost $2-4 depending on where you shop. One bag of lentils could potentially make enough meals for a family of four (eating lentils once a week) for a month! They also provide a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium. Combined with rice, lentils are a complete protein meaning that they provide the body with all essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) making them an ideal protein source.

lentil rice
I made this casserole for the first time a few weeks ago and everyone loved it. It’s so simple to prepare yet so amazing! The one thing to note is the cooking time (2 hours 20 minutes).

Recipe:
Curried Lentil and Rice Casserole
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh ginger
1 TBSP finely chopped fresh tumeric, or 1 TSP dried
2 TSP curry powder
1 TSP ground cumin
1 TSP ground coriander
1/2 TSP cinnamon
2 TSP sea salt
4 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups French Lentils or black beluga lentils
1 cup long grain brown rice
5 cups water
1 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions, saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add ginger, tumeric, spices, and salt. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Place onion-spice mixture into a large casserole dish. Add carrots, lentils, rice, water and coconut milk. Mix together well. Cover and bake for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, turn oven temp up to 425 degrees F. Remove cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes to let excess liquid cook off. Stir and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This recipe is compliments of the cookbook called “Nourishing Meals” by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. I use this cookbook at least once a week. It’s $24.95 and can be found at most book stores.

If you have not eaten lentils lately this is a great weekend meal. The bonus is you will have leftovers for the work week ahead!

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I was first introduced to quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) 6 years ago while working at the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, BC. This ancient grain, native to South America, has become a staple in my home ever since. It’s versatility, nutritional value and taste make it the perfect all around superfood. When comparing quinoa to other grains, meats and white rice, here’s how it stacks up:

* great source of protein
* contains all 8 essential amino acids (not the case with any other grain)
* ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders, wheat and gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or colitis
* helps promote weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels and even helps to build muscle
* can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes and takes mere minutes to prepare…15-20 to be exact!
* it’s even great cold and stores in the refrigerator for up to one week
* great for pregnancy as it contributes to a healthy baby and enhances a mother’s milk production
* contains the amino acid histadine, which is necessary for human development therefore ideal for growing children
* it’s chock-full of fiber, iron and calcium among other vitamins and minerals – necessary for children and adults alike

Not only do I enjoy quinoa for its many health benefits but also because it’s great for people who have a wheat or gluten intolerance; something I have just discovered I do. My digestive system has been compromised for several years (see my previous blog post) but I was unaware of exactly what the culprit was. A recent trip to the Naturopathic Doctor and Colon Hydrotherapist have indicated that I suffer from non-celiac gluten intolerance, and in order to heal my digestive tract, I must avoid gluten all together.

Although this news did not come as a total surprise to me, regardless if you’re prepared or not it always takes time to adjust to a new way of eating and essentially, living. If you find yourself dealing with digestive discomfort, wheat or gluten intolerance or even more serious digestive diseases, quinoa is a grain I think you will appreciate.

One of my all time favourite dinner recipes –


Quinoa and Veggie Bake (from Vegetarian Times)

1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups celery tops
4-6 kale leaves, shredded
3 Tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 medium onion
2 green onions thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1/2 Tbsp. dried dill
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup grated cheese (we use white cheddar)
1 egg lightly beaten

1- Rinse quinoa in a sieve. Toast in small pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until almost dry. Add 1 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

2- While quinoa is cooking, prep veggies and sauté onions for 6 minutes, using 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add celery and green onions and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3- When quinoa is ready, pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil into 9-inch glass pie pan. Place in oven to heat.

4- Put shredded kale in a large bowl and then cover with the cooked quinoa. Then add the sautéed veg, dill and cheese into the bowl. Stir in egg and season with salt and pepper.

5- By now the oil in the glass pie pan should be hot. Remove from oven, ensure oil is covering the bottom, and then pour entire quinoa veggie mixture into pie pan. Bake 20 minutes, then drizzle 1 Tbsp over the top and bake 20 minutes more until golden brown.

Be sure to be on the lookout for quinoa grains on your next trip to the grocery store. They come in red, black, white or golden coloured seeds as well as ground for use as a creamy textured flour.

The majority of the information presented in this blog was taken from the cookbook “Quinoa – The Everyday Superfood 365” by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. This book is amazing! It’s filled with all kinds of great recipes that use quinoa as the main event for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking options. Enjoy!

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Living with a sluggish digestive system and chronic constipation causes discomfort, low energy, crabbiness, and sometimes even severe pain. I can speak from personal experience- according to my mother I first suffered from constipation at three weeks old! The broad term for this condition is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and it affects one in five people, although symptoms vary depending on the individual.

At the risk of this blog being a little bit TMI (too much information), I want to share the Top Six Ways to Overcome Chronic Constipation and get back to living an active healthy lifestyle.

Water:
You’ve heard it before- adequate hydration is key to combating constipation. Without consuming the proper amount of water for your weight and activity level, the fecal matter in your colon can become very dry and painful to pass. I drink lots of caffeine free herbal teas such as chamomile, rooibos, ginger and peppermint. They’re all great for digestion and taste great without the need for milk or sweeteners! I also drink lots of alkaline, mineralized water that is filtered through my Santevia water system. Avoiding highly caffeinated, sugary beverages and limiting my alcohol consumption has made a world of difference where my constipation is concerned.

Fiber:
I personally have always found it challenging to get enough fiber through diet alone to keep me regular. Although I eat a lot of fruits, veggies and whole grains, my body still needs more bulk to push things through. About 4 years ago, my wife introduced me to a fiber supplement known as “FiberSmart” by Renew Life. I’ve experienced amazing results! It’s primarily ground flax seeds with a few other natural bowel supporting herbs. I have recently discovered another great option to get needed fiber into my diet: flax seeds soaked in water. Adding 2 tablespoons of whole flax seeds (soaked in water overnight) to my morning smoothie is just the ticket to a healthy colon and is relatively inexpensive.

Acidophilus:
Keeping a high quality, full spectrum acidophilus in my fridge is a must. Although many doctors tell people suffering from constipation or diarrhea to eat yogurt, which contains small amounts of acidophilus and bifidus (the “good bacteria”), in many cases it’s not enough! The problem is that it is often killed off by our stomach acid before it gets as far into the digestive system as it needs to. Much better options exist, such as “New Roots Ultra Acidophilus capsules” and “Bio-K” (a highly concentrated, drinkable acidophilus). I take one capsule before bed every night.

Colon Hydrotherapy:
It’s exactly what it sounds like: water therapy for your colon. I have been getting these treatments for the past 10 years and honestly could not live without them. This treatment should be performed by a certified Colon Hydrotherapist (CH) in a clean, comforting and relaxing environment. I generally go to my CH every six months to help eliminate built up toxin from my system and to stimulate my colon’s natural peristalsis. Research practitioners in your area if you feel this is something that would benefit you or email me personally for more information.

Natural Herbal Laxatives:
There’s nothing worse than going for days without a bowel movement and then taking an over-the-counter laxative that causes terrible pain and discomfort. Some of the best natural remedies I use when my body needs a little extra support are: aloe vera juice, Traditional Medicinals “Smooth Move” laxative tea, “Renew Life – Cleansemore”, triphala or slippery elm. None of these options are habit-forming nor do they have any unwanted side effects!


Exercise & Stress Reduction:
Not only do I exercise for physical reasons but also for the mental and emotional support it provides me. For people suffering with IBS, physical activity is a must! It’s not only a great way to manage stress but exercise (even walking as little as 30 minutes a day) can help relieve symptoms of IBS. I have a rebounder (small trampoline) that I sometimes use; the gravity and bouncing seem to really work.

After reading Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the MindBodySpirit Connection by W. Salt II & N. Neimark, I now have a better understanding of how emotions affect my bowel function. The truth of the matter is, the greater the amount of stress present in my life, the more pain, bloating and constipation I suffer. In today’s fast paced society it’s good practice to check in with ourselves on a daily basis. Whether that means meditating, doing yoga, taking a walk or journaling, we MUST allow our minds to rest and seek internal healing of the spirit as much as external healing of the body.

In summary, the best advice I can offer is to avoid those foods that cause you pain and discomfort, engage in adequate physical activity to keep things flowing, drink lots of good quality water, find ways to de-stress and surround yourself by positive, loving individuals who are willing to support you on your journey.

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Honestly, who could resist my mother-in-law’s fresh baked sourdough bread with melted butter or her secret Freckle Cookie recipe? Not me! Yes, I’m talking about some of the best carbohydrate-rich foods around. Although we must indulge wisely our bodies do need energy and nothing beats homemade.

Carbohydrates are macro-nutrients our bodies need in large quantities for optimal function. Carbs include everything from breads, pastas, whole grains, cereals, fruits, some veggies, cakes, pastries and sweets. Although some carbs are better for you than others, the human body requires anywhere from 55-60% of our daily intake in the form of carbs. Each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories.

When choosing carbohydrate-rich foods the best options are always whole grains such as quinoa, rice, couscous, millet and oats. The best breads and cereals are those made from whole grains that contain at least 3-5 grams of fiber per serving. Rice pasta or whole grain pasta is also a better option than white pasta. By doing your own baking you can control everything from the type of flour you use to the amount of sugar, salt and fat you add. The key thing to remember is that if it’s white it is likely refined and does not contain nearly the amount of nutrients and fiber as its whole grain counterpart.

In recent years carbohydrates have been given a bad rap. With the drastic increase in obesity “experts” have looked at reducing carbs as a way of helping people lose unwanted weight. Although crash diets like Atkins or South Beach provide people with a temporary fix and aid in weight loss, omitting carbohydrates over the long haul is detrimental to our bodies. By eliminating foods high in carbs you are also putting your body at risk for deficiencies- not to mention that people begin to increase their intake of meat and dairy (cholesterol and fat) to replace the unwanted bread, which can make you more susceptible to illness.

Carbohydrates provide our bodies with a long list of nutrients like fiber, folate, and Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. They also help with circulatory, immune and endocrine function as well as cell repair and growth. Not many people are aware that our brains use only carbohydrates to operate. That means that without an adequate intake our brains are essentially starving for fuel. Not only do our brains need the rich energy we get from whole grains, fruits and veggies but our muscles do as well. The best pre-workout meal (eaten 1/2 hour to 45 minutes before exercise) is one that is high in carbohydrates like a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread or a fruit smoothie with 1/2 scoop of protein powder, milk and frozen berries. Believe it or not, your body needs carbs to burn fat. It may sound weird but in order to reach your fat stores you need energy to produce the physical output that in turn burns the fat.

Although cutting back on certain foods can have definite benefits, each person’s needs are different depending on their goals. The thing to keep in mind is that carbs are not the enemy- it’s the type of carbs you choose. Make as many meals at home as you can, chose whole grains as often as possible and develop a positive relationship with your carbs!

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