Sunday, October 23, 2011

November's Vegetable Challenge

Being the king of my own home is nice, since it allows me to make random decrees like a power hungry tyrant. I recently came up with an idea to introduce my kids to more vegetables, so I have decreed that November will be vegetable awareness month. Next month we will make sure that we eat a different vegetable every day of the month.

We recently came up with a list of 31 vegetables, and my kids were definitely more excited about some of them than others. We will include a different vegetable every day until they are all crossed off the list at the end of the month.

I know that winter is not the most ideal time of year to take on this project, since local fresh produce is no longer plentiful, but I think we can do it. It was actually quite challenging to come up with a list of 31 vegetables. Most of us probably rely on eating the same 10 -15 popular ones over and over. Making a game out of this will give us more variety in our diet, get my kids involved in planning some meals, and hopefully help them overcome their fears of being poisoned by eating "yucky" vegetables.

I'd encourage you to join us during the month of  "Novegetablember". If you are not up to the challenge, then at least see if you can make a list of 31 different vegetables. This exercise will help you realize which ones you seldom eat and can get you thinking about trying some new ones.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Are You Getting Enough Fiber?

I was going to name this post "the exciting world of fiber", but that would be deceptive advertising. Fiber may not be a very glamorous topic, but it is an important component of good nutrition. Fiber aids in digestion and can help prevent constipation, heart disease, ulcers, cancer and diabetes. Food high in fiber can also play a role in weight loss.

Dietary fiber or roughage slows the absorption of sugars and starch in the blood stream. It also helps with regularity and cleansing your digestive system. It is recommended that we eat between 25-40 grams of fiber each day. Below is a list of foods and how many grams of fiber they contain.

1 C bran cereal 19
1 C cooked black beans 16
1 medium avocado 10
3 dried figs 10
1 C of raspberries 8
1/2 C cooked spinach 7
1 C strawberries 6
1 medium yam 6
1 C whole wheat pasta 5
1 medium pear 5
1 ear corn on the cob 5
1 baked potato 5
1 C oatmeal 4
1 medium raw apple 4
1 slice whole wheat bread 2
1 medium tomato 1

To improve your fiber intake, try the following:

* Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
* Don't peel your fruits and vegetables.
* Eat dried peas, beans, lentils, and legumes.
* Choose whole fruits over fruit juice.
* Top salads with garbanzo and kidney beans and peas.
* Eat high fiber cereal a couple times a week.

Warning: I will not be held responsible for the consequences of an over enthusiastic fiber consumer. Spread your fiber consumption throughout the day as opposed to getting your RDA of fiber in just one meal. Remember that fiber speeds up transit time of food in the digestive tract. That's a classy way of warning you that you'll spend all day on the toilet if you go overboard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Super Foods

Some foods appear to be more nutrient dense than others and are very high in vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants. Foods like blueberries, flax, almonds, quinoa, salmon, acai, broccoli, and garlic are all known for their unique properties and benefits. I believe we are what we eat, and nutrition is a critical component to good health, but I also think it is easy to put too much emphasis on any one specific food.

If you have been on the Internet over the last several years you have probably seen ads for the acai berry. I have personally tried products containing this berry and am a fan of it, but I will be the first to tell you to watch out for scams. There are countless marketing companies that are jumping on the bandwagon and promoting it as a weight loss supplement and a cure for any ailment. Acai may have many antioxidants, but that doesn't mean it's the answer to losing weight or curing disease. I believe it can aid in the prevention of certain ailments, and promotes good health, but there is alot of marketing hype to sift through.

We've been told about the benefits of green leafy, brightly colored, and cruciferous vegetables that contain high anti-oxidants. I think you can pretty much say that all vegetables are good for you. (that is, until Hostess comes out with a new one), but over emphasizing any one vegetable because it has been labeled a super food and avoiding others is not wise. Fad diets frequently focus on just one food. A balanced diet is the key. No matter how good for you any specific food may be you, you will still want to eat a balanced diet.

I think it is a good thing for us to eat more of these healthy "super foods", but when I hear people endlessly promote any one particular food it reminds me of a concert pianist who sits down to the piano and then just hits the one same key over and over because it sounds so great to them. Nutrition consists of the entire keyboard, not just your favorite key. Remember it is important to have balance, variety, and moderation.