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Red Meat Raises Bowel Problems for Men

redmeatmen

Red Meat Raises Bowel Problems for Men

 

A new study suggests that men who eat lots of red meat are much more likely to have bowel problems, pain and nausea than their peers who stick mainly with chicken or fish.

 

Researchers examined more than two decades of data on more than 46,000 men and found frequent red meat eaters were 58 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diverticulitis, a common bowel condition that occurs when small pockets or bulges lining the intestines become inflamed.

 

“Previous studies have shown that a high fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of diverticulitis, however, the role of other dietary factors in influencing risk of diverticulitis was not well studied,” said senior study author Andrew Chan, a researcher at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Our result show that diets high in red meat may be associated with a higher risk of diverticulitis,” Chan added by email.

 

Diverticulitis is common, resulting in more than 200,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S. at a cost of more than $2 billion, Chan and colleagues note in the journal Gut.

 

New cases are on the rise, and the exact causes are unknown, although the condition has been linked to smoking, obesity and the use of certain nonprescription painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

 

While diverticulitis can often be treated with a liquid or low-fiber diet, severe cases may require hospitalization and surgery to fix complications like perforations in the gut wall.

 

Researchers examined data collected on men who were aged 40 to 75 when they joined the study between 1986 and 2012. Every four years men were asked how often, on average, they ate red meat, poultry and fish over the preceding year.

 

 

They were given nine options, ranging from ‘never’ or ‘less than once a month,’ to ‘six or more times a day.’

 

During the study period, 764 men developed diverticulitis.

 

Men who ate the most red meat were also more likely to smoke, more likely to regularly take NSAIDs, and less likely to eat foods with fiber or get intense exercise.

 

By contrast, men who ate more chicken and fish were less likely to smoke or take NSAIDs and more likely to get vigorous exercise.

 

After accounting for these other factors that can influence the risk of diverticulitis, red meat was still associated with higher odds of developing the bowel disorder.

 

Each daily serving of red meat was associated with an 18 percent increased risk, the study found.

 

Unprocessed meats like beef, pork and lamb were associated with a greater risk than processed meats like bacon or sausage.

 

It’s possible the higher cooking temperatures typically used to prepare unprocessed meats may influence the composition of bacteria in the gut or inflammatory activity, though the exact reason for the increased risk tied to these foods is unknown, the researchers note.

 

Swapping one daily serving of red meat for chicken or fish was associated with a 20 percent reduction in the risk of this bowel disorder, the study also found.

 

The study is observational, and doesn’t prove red meat causes diverticulitis.

 

Other limitations of the study include its reliance on men to accurately recall and report how much meat they ate and the possibility that the results may not apply to women, the authors point out.

 

Even so, the findings should offer yet another reason to consider cutting back on red meat, said Samantha Heller, a nutritionist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.

 

Diets high in red and processed meats have been linked with increased risks of inflammatory bowel diseases, so the link found in this study “is not surprising,” Heller said by email.

 

“Focusing on a more plant based, higher fiber diet that includes legumes, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits, replete with appropriate fluid intake, may go a long way in helping reduce of inflammatory bowel diseases, diverticulitis, and other chronic diseases,” Heller added.

 

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Dr P Carrothers

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Flourless Pancakes

flourlesspancakes

Flour-less Pancakes Recipe

Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sea salt to taste
  • Ghee

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Pour batter into a pan with melted ghee over medium heat. Cook until small bubbles form and then flip.

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The Roto-rooter Fruit!

pomme

How Pomegranate Helps Clean Your Arteries

 

Arteries are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. When you have healthy arteries, blood flows through the body quite easily. As you age, fatty deposits, cholesterol and cellular waste products settle on the inner walls of your arteries. Research shows that pomegranate can actually help clean your arteries helping to keep blood flowing smoothly.

When arteries become clogged, the build up of arterial plaque can significantly reduce blood flow, and in some instances, arteries can become completely blocked. Since clogged arteries can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and even death, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to reduce arterial plaque and do what you can to clean your arteries.

 

The Artery Cleaning Power of Pomegranate Juice

 

Making simple lifestyle changes are an excellent way to treat and prevent clogged arteries. This includes a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, but are some fruits and vegetables more helpful than others?

 

Pomegranates are extremely rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols, anthocyanins and tannins. Compared to other fruit juices, such as blueberry, orange and cranberry, pomegranate juice has the most antioxidant power. It is these high levels of antioxidants found in pomegranates that help clean clogged arteries.

 

Can Pomegranates Actually Reverse Atherosclerosis?

 

Promising research conducted on the benefits of pomegranate juice has found that

pomegranates can prevent clogged arteries and may even reverse the progression of atherosclerosis. Specifically, researchers have found that pomegranates encourage the production of nitric oxide, which is an essential chemical that promotes healthy blood flow and keeps the arteries open. This is helpful in reducing the effects of oxidative stress on blood vessels. Perhaps the most exciting finding from this research is the ability of pomegranates to reduce plaque accumulations that have already built up in the blood vessels.

 

Additional research has also found that drinking pomegranate juice had a significant effect on arterial plaque. Researchers instructed participants to drink pomegranate juice on a daily basis. Within three months, plaque accumulations were reduced by 13 percent. After one year, arterial plaque was reduced by 30 percent. Plaque accumulation actually increased by nine percent within the group of people who were not drinking pomegranate juice on a daily basis.

 

In addition to healthier arteries with less plaque accumulation, pomegranate juice has other positive effects on the heart, including reduced fat accumulation around the heart, reduced inflammation within the blood vessels, less oxidative stress and improved ECG results. Given the dangers of cardiovascular disease and clogged arteries, the results of this research are certainly promising. With the help of this exotic fruit, it is possible to clean your arteries and greatly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

sweetandsoaurmeatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallion whites
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces ground turkey breast
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallion greens

 

 

 

 

Preparation

1.Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.

2.Drain pineapple juice into a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and crushed red pepper. Set aside.

3.Finely chop enough pineapple to yield 1/2 cup. Press out excess moisture with paper towels. Reserve the remaining pineapple chunks for the sauce.

4.Lightly beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in carrot, scallion whites, ginger, five-spice powder, salt and the finely chopped pineapple. Add turkey and pork; gently mix to combine (do not overmix). Using a scant 1 tablespoon each, make 36 small meatballs. Bake on the prepared baking sheet until just cooked through, about 15 minutes.

5.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the reserved juice mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining pineapple and the cooked meatballs.

6.To serve, thread a meatball and a piece of pineapple and/or pepper onto a small skewer or toothpick. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with scallion greens.

 

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Freeze cooked meatballs in sauce airtight for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating. Equipment: 36 short skewers or toothpicks

 

Nutrition

 

Per serving: 37 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 12 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 0 g fiber; 101 mg sodium; 76 mg potassium.

 

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Insulin Shots As Effective as Pumps

pump

 

Insulin Shots as Effective as Pumps

 

Adults with type 1 diabetes may be able to manage their blood sugar levels just as well with multiple daily insulin injections as they can with continuous insulin pumps, a recent study suggests.

In type 1 diabetes, a lifelong condition, the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow blood sugar to enter cells and produce energy. People with the condition usually have to test their own blood sugar level throughout the day and inject insulin to manage it; otherwise they risk complications like heart disease and kidney damage.

 

Some previous research has suggested pumps may help patients get better blood sugar control than they can achieve by giving themselves multiple daily insulin injections. But patients tend to get more intensive training on managing their blood sugar with pumps than they do with injections, so some doctors have questioned whether better patient education might be the reason pumps get better results.

 

For the current study, researchers set out to answer this question. They offered 260 adults with type 1 diabetes the same education on how to manage their blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, and then randomly assigned participants to use pumps or daily injections.

 

“What the trial shows fairly unequivocally is that education/training can produce considerable benefit, although it leaves many patients still a long way from current glucose targets,” said lead study investigator Dr. Simon Heller, a diabetes researcher at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

 

To compare pumps to injections, researchers examined average blood sugar levels over the course of several months by measuring changes to the hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells. The hemoglobin A1c test measures the percentage of hemoglobin that is coated with sugar, with readings of 6.5 percent or above signaling diabetes.

 

 

At the start of the study, participants had average A1c readings of 9.1 percent, indicating poorly controlled blood sugar with an increased risk of serious complications.

 

After two years of follow-up, most patients still had poorly controlled blood sugar. People using the pumps achieved average A1c reductions of 0.85 percentage points, compared with 0.42 percentage points with multiple daily injections, researchers report in the BMJ.

 

Once researchers accounted for other factors that can influence blood sugar such as age, sex and treatment center, the difference in A1c for pump versus injection patients was too small to rule out the possibility that it was due to chance.

 

There are many different types of pumps and injection devices on the market, and one limitation of the study is that researchers didn’t examine how specific design features might influence how well patients succeeded in managing their blood sugar, the authors note.

 

It’s also possible that the effort to give pump and injection patients the same level of education may have skewed the results because in real life, patients might get more education when they start using pumps than they would for injections, said Dr. Roman Hovorka, director of research at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories in the UK.

 

Pumps also have a technological advantage that wasn’t addressed in the study, Hovorka, who wasn’t involved in the research, said by email. These devices can collect data on insulin delivery and blood sugar levels and transmit that information to clinicians, enabling doctors to adjust treatment based on the results.

 

But because pumps are much more expensive than injections, it doesn’t make sense to use them unless they have a proven advantage for blood sugar control, said Dr. Edwin Gale, emeritus professor of diabetes at the University of Bristol in the UK.

 

In the UK, pumps cost about 2,500 pounds ($3,116.25) a year plus an additional 1,500 pounds ($1,869.75) for batteries and other supplies, researchers note.

 

“I think the take-home message for patients is that pumps won’t do the job for you,” Gale said by email. “They are not for everyone, and many people can do just as well on multiple injections.”

 

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Mexican Garden Scramble

mexican

 

Mexican Garden Scramble

 

Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is one of the best ways to control your blood pressure. Fruit and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, but especially valuable are the potassium, magnesium, and even calcium that they provide. One way to ensure you are getting enough vegetables is to start your day with a serving!

 

This Mexican garden scramble includes flavorful peppers and onions, cilantro, and tomatoes folded into fluffy, protein-rich scrambled eggs. Topped with a bit of shredded cheese and creamy, potassium-rich avocado, this breakfast is a delicious and satisfying way to start your day.

 

Ingredients

3 large eggs + 1 egg white

1/4 cup onion, diced

1/4 cup bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh jalapeno, diced

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup tomato, diced

1/2 small avocado, sliced

2 tablespoons shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese

salsa or hot sauce

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and white until combined and fluffy. Set aside.

Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with oil and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

 

Turn heat to low, spray again, and add eggs. Cook over low heat, pushing eggs from outside of pan to the center with a rubber spatula, until almost done. Add cooked veggies and 2 tablespoons cilantro to the eggs and continue cooking until eggs are set.

 

 

To assemble, divide eggs between two bowls. Add tomato, avocado, cheese, and remaining cilantro. Top with your favorite salsa or hot sauce. Enjoy!

 

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

If you have other veggies on hand that need to be used up, feel free to throw them into the pan with the peppers and onions. Breakfast scrambles are a great way to use up vegetables that are about to go bad. Mushrooms, corn, and spinach would all be great additions.

 

To keep the calories, fat and sodium under control, be sure to stick to the small portion of cheese and avocado listed in the recipe. While nutritious, these foods are also calorie-dense.

 

If you need to watch your cholesterol, you can use all egg whites in place of whole eggs.

 

Cooking and Serving Tips

When making scrambled eggs, keep the heat on low and slowly stir from the outside edges inward for the best results.

 

Serve with a warmed whole grain corn or whole wheat tortilla and a serving of fresh fruit to round out the meal.

 

If you are having concerns about your food intake, please make an appointment with us and we can work on a personal health care plan.

 

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Skillet Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cookie, Low Carb

skillett

Skillet Peanut Butter Cinnamon Spice Cookie

 

Total Time 20 min

Prep 10 min, Cook 10 min

Yield 16 servings (129 calories each)

This decadent yet low-carb skillet peanut butter cinnamon spice cookie is the perfect treat for someone with diabetes. It takes less than ten minutes of prep time, has only five grams of sugar per serving, and is made with blood sugar lowering cinnamon. Most importantly, it’s delicious!

 

Ingredients

1 large egg

1 cup natural peanut butter

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup almond meal

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

Non-stick spray

2 tablespoons peanuts, optional, for garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, beat egg until slightly frothy. Whisk in the peanut butter, brown sugar, almond meal, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until well combined.

Spray an ovenproof skillet lightly with nonstick spray. Pour batter into the skillet and spread evenly with a spatula. If desired, sprinkle the top with a few peanuts and press down slightly.

Place cookie on a rack set in the center of the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until puffed and golden around the edges. Let cook 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

This is one of my favorite treats to make because I always have the ingredients on hand! Whenever I’m craving something warm, gooey and sweet, I know this skillet cookie is only 20 minutes away.

 

Nut Butters

 

Even in your pantry is looking bare, this recipe is easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. You can use any type of nut butter—cashew butter and almond butter both work well. And if you’re in the unfortunate situation of running out of nut butter, you can make your own by blending a rounded cup of nuts with a tablespoon of oil in the food processor until if forms a creamy spread.

 

Sweeteners

 

I made these with brown sugar, which has a richer flavor than white sugar, although you could certainly substitute it in a pinch. You could also use pure maple syrup or honey, but be sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees and cook it a couple minutes longer to prevent burning.

 

Nut-Free Variation

 

If anyone in your household is nut free, you can still make this cookie—just swap in sesame butter and leave out the almond meal. Made with sunflower seeds, it’s perfect for those with tree nut allergies.

 

Vegan Variation

 

For a vegan version, use a chia seed egg. Mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let it sit to gel for about 10 minutes before mixing in the other ingredients.

 

 

This trick is a perfect one to remember next time you run out of eggs.

 

More Add-Ins

 

If you’re feeling extra decadent, load this cookie up with lots of healthy add-ins. In the mood for something chocolatey? Swap the almond flour for ¼ cup cocoa powder, or stir in ½ cup chopped dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and flavanols. Want something fruity? Stir in a handful of frozen berries. This recipe is especially delicious with frozen wild blueberries.

 

Make an extra nutty cookie with different kinds of nuts and seeds, like walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Add a handful or two of dried fruit along with those nuts to make a granola inspired cookie. My favorite way to enjoy this cookie is with a handful of shredded dried coconut and dark chocolate chips.

 

Cooking and Serving Tips

This cookie is best when it’s slightly undercooked. The center might not look fully done when you take it out, but it will continue cooking as it cools.

 

Be sure to use a nonstick or well seasoned cast iron skillet to prevent sticking.

 

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V is for Vegetables and Unique Recipes

vegetables

 

V is for Vegetables

When you look at a basket of garden-fresh vegetables, is your imagination inspired by the endless culinary possibilities these fresh-picked beauties represent? Do you feel excitement and a sense of adventure as you take in their distinctive colors, shapes, and weights?

 

One of my goals as a chef, cook-book writer, and father is to help people discover the joys of fresh, locally grown, seasonal vegetables. I want people to be filled with fascination when they see coils of garlic scapes or lacy fronds of fennel.

 

The following recipes from my latest cookbook, V Is for Vegetables, will show you how to perform edible transformations, turning what may seem scraggly, rooty, and earthy into delicious, attractive dishes. You don’t need sophisticated cooking skills — just an appetite for new flavors and textures, and a willingness to explore the possibilities.

 

GARLIC-SCAPE OMELET

Garlic scapes are the tender shoots of the garlic plant that grow up and out of the stem, curling their way toward the sky. Most commercial growers remove the scapes to preserve the energy of the garlic bulbs and increase yield. For home cooks, though, they’re a real treat. Look for scapes at farmers’ markets in early summer. You can chop and prepare them like green beans or slice them thinly and sauté to bring out their delicate aroma. Scapes have a far milder taste than mature garlic.

Garlic-Scape-Omelet

Garlic Scape Omelet

 

Makes one serving

Prep time: five minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

 

2 tbs. butter

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 garlic scapes, thinly sliced on the diagonal

3 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic clove, scapes, salt, and pepper and cook until the scapes begin to soften, about two minutes. Remove the garlic clove and discard; transfer the scapes to a bowl.

 

Wipe the skillet clean, and then melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat.

 

Beat the eggs well in a small bowl, and add salt and pepper. Pour the eggs into the pan and stir vigorously to create small, fine curds. As you work, scrape down the sides of the pan so the eggs cook evenly.

 

Sprinkle one-third of the cooked scapes onto the eggs just before the eggs firm up. When the top is evenly set and not runny, tilt the pan away from you and fold the omelet in half with a spatula. The lip of the pan will help form the shape of the omelet as it continues to cook gently.

 

Turn out the omelet onto a plate and serve topped with the remaining garlic scapes.

 

WARM WILTED PEA SHOOTS

Think beyond the pea pod. Succulent pea shoots have long been a staple in Chinese cooking, and some U.S. farmers are now growing peas especially for their shoots and leaves. Look for pea shoots in late spring, and enjoy them in any dish as a replacement for greens like spinach, Swiss chard, or kale. You can add raw pea shoots to salads for an extra kick, but wilting them really brings out their flavor.

peashoots

Warm Wilted Pea shoots

 

Makes four servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: three minutes

 

2 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. sesame oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

4 large handfuls pea shoots

Handful snow pea pods, blanched

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

 

Add the garlic, pea shoots, snow pea pods, salt, and pepper.

 

Cook, stirring often, until the pea shoots are just wilted, about a minute. Serve warm.

 

BRAISED RADISHES WITH HONEY AND BLACK PEPPER

Braising softens radish roots and tempers their spicy rawness. The sweet honey and aromatic black pepper in this recipe complement, rather than detract from, the character of the radishes, and the browned edges of the radishes themselves add a flavorful touch.

Braised-Radishes-With-Honey-and-Black-Pepper

Braised Radishes With Honey and Black Pepper

 

Makes four servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

 

2 tbs. olive oil

1 lb. radishes, halved

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 tbs. honey

1 tsp. coarsely cracked black pepper

2 tbs. cider vinegar

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half the radishes and all the garlic, and cook until radishes are lightly browned, about five minutes.

 

Add the honey and pepper, and allow the honey to caramelize, about one minute.

 

Add the vinegar, the remaining radishes, and salt. Cook until the second batch of radishes is just warmed but not soft. Serve warm.

 

WARM ZUCCHINI SALAD

Zucchini is more than a ubiquitous plant that grows out of control in summer. Along with other summer squashes like yellow crookneck and pattypan, it’s a symbol of Mediterranean cooking. The tender textures and light flavors are inextricably linked to summer and sun.

Warm-Zucchini-Salad

Warm Zucchini Salad

 

Makes four servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: eight minutes

 

2 tbs. olive oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 lb. zucchini and other summer squashes, cut into wedges

Pinch crushed red-pepper flakes

Pinch dried oregano

Pinch dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup fava or any shell beans, blanched, peeled, and rinsed

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Handful fresh basil, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, zucchini, red-pepper flakes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender, about five minutes.

 

Add the favas, goat cheese, and basil. Toss and serve warm. (Also delicious cooled.)

 

Why No Numbers? Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

 

Call us if you have any concerns or questions about your healthcare.  If you don’t know what you are doing , it is better to ask.  Sometimes there are no do-overs.

 

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The Cure Is In The Kitchen

cureinkitchen

The Cure Is In The Kitchen

 

There are a lot of reasons why people visit the Mayo Clinic, most of which have something to do with heart surgery or various other medical emergencies. I traveled there recently to learn how to cook barley risotto.

 

Barley has many good features: It’s full of fiber and rich in niacin (vitamin B3) and minerals such as manganese and selenium. It also has a nice, nutty flavor that lends itself to a wide variety of pleasant dishes you might enjoy at the end of a long day. Plus, it’s really easy to cook.

 

I could have learned to make barley risotto in five minutes by reading a recipe, but I went to the Mayo Clinic to learn about it because I wanted to hear from doctors there who are convinced that the greatest public-health advances will come not from gee-whiz medical technology but by teaching Americans how to cook healthy meals.

 

That’s how I happened to sit down with internist Deborah Rhodes, MD, over barley risotto. At one point, our conversation turned to that classic scene from TV cop dramas: A drug dealer, riddled with gunshot wounds, is rushed into the emergency room on a hospital gurney. The valiant crew of surgeons and nurses race to save him, cracking jokes about how one of the bullets hit the exact same place where he was wounded the last time he was in the ER. It will, they quip, reduce the amount of scarring.

 

It’s tempting to look at that cliché and see a tragic example of someone who made dangerous choices that overtax our medical system while destroying lives. But do we ever stop to think about the everyday choices we make that lead to similarly awful outcomes?

 

Rhodes told me she sees patients all the time who suffer an obesity-related medical emergency — say a heart attack — and return years later with other serious complications of obesity because they were unable to address the underlying causes. The statistics are alarming:

 

Women who have survived one of the most common types of breast cancer and are obese have a 30 percent higher chance of recurrence and a nearly 50 percent higher chance of dying from the cancer, compared with healthy-weight survivors.

Some 120,000 cancer cases in the United States each year are directly associated with obesity, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Weight issues may account for as many as 14 percent of cancer deaths in men and 20 percent in women 50 and older, according to a 2003 study by the American Cancer Society.

More than 16 percent of strokes are associated with obesity.

Middle-age men who are obese have a 60 percent greater chance of dying from a heart attack than their counterparts with a healthy weight.

Obesity, of course, has many causes, but for most of us it’s all about priorities — especially balancing the demands of work against the time and energy required to develop and practice healthy habits. We often feel it’s good to spend an extra three hours at the office, but bad to take a little time off to attend yoga class. Or we believe it’s OK to be so selfless at work that we skip lunch, work through dinner, and hit the drive-through on the way home, but it’s selfish to insist on making time for family meals.

 

Part of the solution, according to Rhodes and her Mayo Clinic colleagues, is to teach people how to cook. Mayo’s new “participation kitchen” can help people emerging from a medical crisis who are ready to use that difficult moment in their lives as a pivot point. Learning to prepare healthy meals can aid the  transition from their current lifestyle to one that may keep them out of the emergency room in the future.

 

Mayo also offers life coaching and Pilates classes, as well as health assessments, to help patients get back on the fitness track. If this doesn’t sound like our notions of a hospital, that’s because Mayo and other medical centers are beginning to figure out that the future of health is about preventing, rather than treating, chronic disease. And eating well is a central part of the strategy.

 

That’s easier said than done, of course, and it always has been. Hippocrates, who lived some 2,500 years ago, offered one of our better-known life lessons when he said, “Let food be thy medicine.” But, as Plato pointed out, not everyone was listening. “We have made of ourselves living cesspools and driven doctors to invent names for our diseases,” the philosopher wrote.

 

People in Hippocrates’s time ate what we would today call an organic, whole-foods diet, and they probably got a fair amount of exercise, as there were no cars or escalators. But they still found a way to eat poorly. It’s just something that people do — we’re all too human, all too frail. I like to think of a poor diet not as a personal failure, but as a weakness that has vexed humans since at least the time of Hippocrates.

 

How can we work with that human frailty and nudge ourselves in the direction of better health? We might start by cooking barley for risotto. Load it up with sautéed red peppers and Swiss chard, throw on some sautéed chicken, lamb sausage, or salmon, and you have a thoroughly healthy and satisfying meal.

 

There are even easier steps, though. Keep a bag of almonds or protein bars at the office. They’ll keep you from resorting to the vending machine for sustenance when those last-minute meetings force you to skip lunch. Make a batch of hard-boiled eggs on the weekend so you can grab a quick, protein-rich breakfast when you’re running late for work. Swap out sugary beverages for drinks that you actually love just as much but don’t consider very often — perhaps chilled peppermint tea?

 

None of these things is as complicated as heart surgery. But taken together, they might just keep you out of the emergency room and off the operating table.

 

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Healthy Chicken Fried Rice

chickenfriedrice

Healthy Chicken Fried Rice

 

Craving takeout? You can have this healthy fried brown rice with chicken and asparagus on the dinner table in 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you’d wait for delivery. This recipe swaps fiber-rich brown rice for white rice, which helps keep you full and keeps blood sugar steady.

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided

1 pound chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces

½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 carrot, trimmed and chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 cups chopped asparagus, from approximately a 1-pound bunch

⅓ cup water

2 cups cooked white or brown rice, chilled

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

¾ cup frozen green peas

Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until golden on all sides and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside in a bowl.

 

Wipe skillet clean. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat on medium-high. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger. Saute 2 to 3 minutes until onion is translucent. Stir in asparagus and ⅓ cup water, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom. Cook until asparagus is tender but still bright green and water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

 

 

Stir in rice and soy sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly crispy and warmed through, about 5 minutes total. Stir in peas and cook an additional minute to warm through.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

If you’re usually not a fan of the heavier flavor of brown rice, you may be surprised to find you like it in this dish. The nutty flavor of brown rice is brought out by a quick stir fry in peanut oil. However, if you’re still not sold, you could try a mix of white and brown rice or make this with white rice.

 

Think of this quick and easy recipe as a template for making grain and vegetable stir fries. Look beyond rice and try different whole grains. Quinoa is packed with protein and has the same fluffy texture. Millet has a mild flavor that many people who do not enjoy brown rice will find pleasant. You could even make this with other whole grains like farro or spelt grains, which lend a nutty flavor and chewy texture from their larger grains.

 

To make this dish vegan, swap cubes of tofu for the chicken. You may want to marinate it first or toss with a seasoning spice, like lemon pepper seasoning. Tofu by itself is pretty bland. You could also make this with chunks of pork tenderloin or lean ham.

 

For gluten-free fried rice, use tamari instead of soy sauce.

 

 

Tamari is a soy sauce made from only soybeans rather than a blend of soy and wheat. If you are allergic to soy, look for coconut aminos, which has a similar umami flavor.

 

Feel free to use any combination of vegetables you or your family enjoy! I’ve made this with zucchini, green beans, broccoli, and peppers—whatever is on sale or seasonal at the grocery store.

 

For those with peanut allergies, make this with sesame oil, which adds a similar nutty flavor, or your favorite neutral flavored oil, like canola or avocado oil. Avoid olive oil, which is too strongly flavored for this dish.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived 2017

312-972-WELL

 

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

 

 

 

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