Tag Archives: vegetables

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, By Volume – The Volumetrics Diet

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If you’re looking for a diet to support your weight loss/maintenance or healthy eating goals, I cannot emphasize enough that you should find one with science to back it up, preferably created by someone who does nutritional research.  Perhaps that sounds obvious, but most diets are not created based off scientific evaluation (though they will try to trick you into believing otherwise).  Or maybe it sounds biased and that I’m trying to gain support for my lifestyle, but let me assure you that it’s not biased, and this isn’t a self-serving recommendation.  First, I have no plans to create my own diet, so by making this recommendation I’m only supporting those in my field.  Secondly, this should just be common sense.  You will never find a diet with published evidence in peer-reviewed journals that is wacky.  For example, there is no data to support the Paleo diet or the Fast Metabolism Diet.  Because they’re bat shit crazy.

So why should you care about science? Because you should treat that wonderful vessel that is your body with respect, for starters.  Diets that are rooted in science have been tested repeatedly on a wide array of people, making it more likely that it will be safe and effective for you.  Diets based on science are also more likely to be conservative and require real, sustained behavior change from you, which is the sign of something good.  They don’t promise short-term impressive results (lose 20 pounds in two weeks!), but you WILL be healthier if you follow them.  The only two diets that I’ve followed this year that were tested a priori (meaning that they were derived from theoretical deduction, not just observation) before they hit the market are the DASH diet (completed in June) and this month’s diet “The Volumetrics Diet.” (The Mediterannean Diet has science to support it, but it wasn’t a diet designed by scientists for health.  Weight Watchers now has science to support it and was designed based off science for weight loss, though the actual evidence for the Weight Watchers program itself didn’t come until after it was developed.)

The Volumetrics Diet
This is a diet developed by Barbara Rolls, PhD, a woman that is sort of a celebrity in my eyes.  She has been studying Nutritional Science at Penn State for decades, she has published over 250 peer-reviewed research articles, and she has been the president of The Obesity Society.  This isn’t all pomp and circumstance.  The lady knows what she’s talking about, and what she likes to talk about it is human ingestive behaviors.  Dr. Rolls runs a lab that observes people’s eating behaviors and then tests different ways to prepare food that are more healthful and less energy dense.

Energy equilibrium (thus, weight stability) is achieved when energy intake equates to energy output.  If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.  The crux of the issue is that people get hungry when they try to reduce their energy intake because they simply reduce portion size.  A potentially more sustainable and effective approach (as outlined by Rolls) is to reduce the caloric density (CD) of your food.

Rolls’ research indicates that people typically eat the same volume of food, regardless of what the food is.  She has tested this by feeding people a serving of food, say lasagna, and they eat x volume.  On another day, she feeds them the same size serving of lasagna, but this time the lasagna has a lower CD because she has added in vegetables (typically low CD foods) and taken away some meat (typically high CD foods due to fat content), and people eat the same volume (x).  Thus, the whole premise of the Volumetrics Diet is to eat either the same or larger volume of food compared to what you would typically eat, but decrease the caloric density of the meal.  In doing so, you eat fewer calories but feel more full.  SCIENCE.

stomach CD

How To Do It

Reduce caloric density (CD) of the foods you consume.  How? Check out the nutrition label and calculate:
Calories per serving/grams per serving = CD

Category Calorie Density How to Eat Examples

1

<0.6

“Free” foods to eat anytime

Almost all fruits and non-starchy veggies, broth based soups

2

0.6-1.5

Eat reasonable portions

Whole grains, lean protein, legumes, and low fat dairy

3

1.6-3.9

Manage your portions

Breads, desserts, non-fat baked snacks, cheeses, higher-fat meats

4

4.0-9.0

Carefully manage portions and frequency of eating

Fried snacks, candy, cookies, nuts, fats

This becomes almost fool proof once you get used to where foods lie in the given categories.

Throughout this year, I have found that I get really sick of tracking my diet or spending a lot of time figuring out what to eat based on specific nutritional attributes (how many grams of fat/protein/carbs, type of fat, type of carb, etc).  These are extremely beneficial and perhaps even necessary practices when you start a weight loss plan because you HAVE to learn what healthy foods look like. For me, I just got bored with it and it became tedious.  The Volumetrics Diet simplifies and streamlines things, which I really appreciate.  In addition to changing the CD of the foods you eat, the plan promotes physical activity (working up to at least 10,000 steps per day), and becoming more mindful of how you eat, why you eat, and how you can change your attitude to promote a healthier lifestyle.  I won’t go into all of that, but Rolls’ book The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet is an amazing resource.

To make it easy on myself, here are a few things I did to stick to my “volumetrics” plan.
1) Drink a big glass of water before every meal.  This activates the stretch receptors in your stomach and sends a signal to your brain that you’re about to start eating.  It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register feelings of satiety (fullness), so it’s good to give it a head start by stretching the stomach a bit.  This will help to prevent overeating.

2) Eat fruits/veggies as a starter. This means that if you make a salad to go with dinner, eat it first. If you bring an apple to go with your lunch, eat it before you eat the rest of the meal.  This works similarly to the water thing, except you’re getting some calories and lots of nutrients, which is extremely important.

3) Change up the snack routine. Most of my snacking typically involves fruit, nonfat/lowfat yogurt, and nuts.  I can easily overeat nuts because I love them so…and they’re small, which makes it feel like you’re not eating much when you’re actually getting A LOT of calories.  I switched it up by incorporating “popped” foods instead of nuts (and saved nuts as meal ingredients instead of snacks).  Popped foods include popcorn (duh) and rice cakes.  I like to eat crackers, but they tend to have an incredibly high caloric density so you can only eat a few (which I never do) if you’re trying to control intake. Popcorn and rice cakes (cinnamon was my favorite flavor) allowed me to get my starch fix without even really think about portion control.
**I also don’t eat microwave popcorn. I either make my own or buy different flavors of the already popped stuff to cut down on fat and all the freaky chemicals that are in microwave popcorn.

4) Controlling my sweet tooth. I just can’t get enough. I love sweets, everyday. This is probably my most unhealthy habit.  Delusional people (or those with extreme will power or who don’t care for sweet foods) will give you stupid advice like, “Just eat a piece of fruit.” Get real. So, I had to figure a way around this.  One way to get my chocolate fix was to buy popcorn with chocolate drizzled over it (got it at Sprouts).  I especially love salty and sweet, so this was a great snack.  I could just grab a handful and not worry about the calories because a handful was enough volume to give me the fix without a ton of calories.  When I want something more than that, my go to is always ice cream. So instead I switched to frozen yogurt, which I love just as much, and just used portion control.  This brought the CD down from 2.16 (for chocolate ice cream) to 1.13 (for chocolate frozen yogurt).

5) When you aren’t eating something healthy, don’t eat as much of it. This is seemingly obvious, but I think a lot of us forget this and just go all out when we eat unhealthy, convincing ourselves that we’ll “go back to eating healthy tomorrow.” This is why it’s so easy to fall off the healthy eating wagon.  Just allow yourself to eat these things occasionally and just don’t eat as much of it.  That way, you never “fall off the wagon.” This is one of the most important things that you can learn from reasonable diets.  There is much less of a struggle to stick to a diet when you’re granted the freedom to eat what you want.  Learning portion sizes and implementing portion control would be my number one recommendation for anyone who wants to eat healthier.

Stats

  Goal/Normal DASH Low Fat Sustainability FMD October November
Weight 121-60 123.5 123 123 125.5 127.5 123.5
BMI 18.5-24.9 19.5 19.25 19.25 19.7 20 19.5
PBF 21-32 ? ? ? ? ? ?
WC <35 ? 26.5 27 27 27.5 26.5
HC ? 36.5 37 37.5 38 38
W:H Ratio <0.8 ? 0.73 0.73 0.72 0.72 0.7
Blood Pressure <120/80 91/68 103/66 103/68 95/65 102/73 105/72
      Diet
Total kcal 2000-2200 1865 1780 1905 925-1688 1920 1820
Protein (%) 13058 15 22 19 15-61 16 18
CHO (%) 49-52 52 60 52 28-77 46 54
Fiber (g) at least 25 30 23 25 30-52 28 31
Fat (%) 20-35 33 18 29 10-46 38 28
Sat Fat (%) <10 8 7 8 3-7 7 7
Sodium (mg) 2300 2147 2315 2282 1250-1740 2127 1975
Potassium (mg) 4700 3874 3143 3746 4014-4624 3826 3906
Fruit/Veg (servings) 5-9 7-9 4-6 5-7 8-12 6-9 6-11
Cost   127.32 145.2 254.45 195.14 204.3 128.5
  

By following the Volumetrics Diet, I lost the weight that I had gained on FMD and the MedDiet.  I wasn’t really intending to, but I found myself getting full on fewer calories…exactly as the plan is laid out. I also didn’t spend much money this month, but I think that was mostly because I had a lot of food left over from MedDiet. However, I really don’t think Volumetrics is an expensive way to eat.  There are no special ingredients to buy – just lots and lots of produce.

Final Thoughts

This diet was my favorite when considering the diets that I’ve tried this year that are designed for weight loss/maintenance (Weight Watchers, Low Fat).  It was the most intuitive out of all of them for me and I wasn’t required to track my intake, so it wasn’t nearly as cumbersome as the others.  Weight Watchers really uses the same premise as Volumetrics by promoting fruit and vegetable intake; they are just two different approaches and they will each work well for different people.  Perhaps the most important thing I gained from this month, though, was the skill to start listening to my hunger and satiety cues.  I was somewhat doubtful that I’d actually feel full simply by drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables, so I had to pay close attention to how hungry/full I felt.  Turns out that I felt full a lot faster when I was following the Volumetrics approach to eating.  This is perhaps the most important skill you can learn when trying to eat healthier – listen to your body.  She will not lie to you.

And now…only one month left in this year long experiment! Join me at the end of 2013 (more likely the beginning of 2014) as I review my experience with Mindful Eating, the only “program” where I won’t really be paying any attention to WHAT I eat but HOW and WHY I eat.

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Falling in Love with Food Again – The Mediterranean Way

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LovePeople

The Mediterranean has always fascinated me – the people, the geography, the history, art, culture, politics, etc.  Food is no exception.  This October, I brought the Mediterranean into my world, and I’m sad to be leaving it behind me.

The Basics
Many people (Americans) hear about the Mediterannean Diet, that it includes the eating styles of the Italians, and automatically assume that means pasta, alfredo, breadsticks, maybe lots of meatballs, etc.  In this and many other ways, Olive Garden has done a huge disservice to Americans and what we think Italian food is.  That type of food is Italian, but it is more reminiscent of Northern Italy, where heavier foods abound and health benefits of said diet do not.  Instead, the MedDiet embodies the food stylings of areas that actually border the Mediterranean Sea.  Meals in these places tend to be fresh, light, flavorful, with a very healthy dose of olive oil and red wine.
Study after study promotes adherence to the Mediterannean Diet for its heart health benefits.  I focus on heart health because it’s the most important system in the body! …and also because it is my research and interest bias.  A study of over 1.5 million people showed that those individuals who follow a Mediterranean style of eating suffer lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and even neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s than those who do not.  Clearly, those Italians/Spaniards/Greeks/Turks know what they’re doing.
So what is the MedDiet? Like all healthy diets, the MedDiet recommends a focus on whole foods: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meat, fish, some dairy (but not a lot), and very little red meat.  On top of those key traits, however, is an emphasis on olive oil (and the frequent glass of red wine).  Interestingly, because of the olive oil and nut/seed focus, the MedDiet is actually fairly high in fat (~40%; Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 30-35%), which goes to show that fat is not the enemy.  To be clear, though, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, while nuts like walnuts are omega-3 rich, both of which are very heart healthy.  Saturated fat is another story.

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One of the many reasons that this eating style promotes overall health is because of the high intake of phytochemicals (compounds in plants that often give the plant a distinct color or fragrance and typically have antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties).  Many researchers have sought to determine which specific component of the MedDiet is the source of the diet’s benefits.  Olive oil and walnuts are often studied, and while they show significant benefit when either simply added to the diet or substituted for unhealthy fats like butter, they don’t explain everything.  That’s no surprise to you or me (though this type of research plagues nutritional science), and the benefits from the diet likely come from eating simple, whole, fresh foods that have complex and synergistic favorable effects.

MedDiet Score
One of the coolest things (in my opinion) that has come out of all the studies of the MedDiet has been the results that show that you don’t have to eat foods specific to the region in order to realize the value of the diet.  What I mean by that is there are plenty of foods from around the world that are just as healthy as those consumed in the countries bordering the Mediterannean.  For example, Latin (particularly Mexican) foods are near and dear to my heart, and I eat them at least weekly.  A late night visit to nearly all drive-thru burrito joints in the American southwest will prove this, but a dish that includes foods such black beans (legumes), quinoa (whole grains), fresh pico de gallo (vegetables, herbs), and avocado (healthy, monounsaturated fats) can still be consumed whilst following the MedDiet plan.  Research has shown that as long as these types of whole, fresh foods are consumed, it doesn’t matter if they come from the Mediterannean region.  Check out the MedDiet score sheet to see how your diet stacks up!

My Experience
I have been looking forward to doing the MedDiet more than any other diet since I decided to embark on this whole project.  After the hell month that was the Fast Metabolism Diet, I was expecting to have a similar response to the flexibility and joy of the MedDiet as I did when I made the Paleo to Weight Watchers transition.  It didn’t go as smoothly this time around.  While I was restricted on both FMD and Paleo, I didn’t develop the issues with eating/food on Paleo that I did with FMD.  As a recap, when I was following FMD, I felt consistently hungry, restricted, and over-analytical about food.  This resulted in me gorging myself on unhealthy foods because there was no reprieve from the monotony and control of the diet.  I cheated constantly, but I felt no actual enjoyment of what I was eating.
Unfortunately, these issues with food and eating transcended into the first 7-10 days of October.  I ate out of necessity, but I realize now that because of FMD, I had forgotten how to enjoy food – to even really taste it.  Luckily, this issue disappeared before it ruined my whole month.  I eased back into cooking for fun and joy, and I really got to stretch my legs in the kitchen again.  I can’t adequately describe how amazing this felt once I strapped on my proverbial chef hat and got to it.  For the past few months, I haven’t really tried many new recipes, I haven’t experimented much, and I’ve just been in a cooking rut.  But no longer! I didn’t even give a second thought to what I was eating – did it fit into the stipulations for this month’s eating plan? Was it too salty/too high fat/too many points/GMO-free?…and on and on and on.  I felt so much freedom this month.  In general, the MedDiet style of eating is how I like to eat anyways.  When in doubt (of me “following the plan”), I usually just threw in some more veggies to my meal, tossed the finished product with some extra olive oil, and poured myself a glass of wine.  Oh and then ate some dark chocolate for dessert.  Yes, this is real life, and this is actually a great way to eat.  Try it on. I bet you’ll like the way it fits J
Being in the kitchen again and doing it as a hobby instead of out of necessity brought so much joy to me this month.  It’s interesting, cooking in this Mediterranean way.  I felt relaxed, at peace.  Cooking can be meditative for me, and I felt it more this month than I have in a very long time.  Nearly everything I made this month was made from scratch and there is power and beauty in that.  Food is obviously a necessity, but to make it into an art is invigorating.  I loved that about this month. So very much.

Recipes
I already posted a number of recipes that I developed this month.  Here are some of my favorites that I didn’t create, but are worth noting.
Butternut Squash, Chickpea, Lentil Stew– My parents just bought me a crockpot when they were visiting earlier this month (thanks Mom and Dad!), and this was my first creation in it.  I LOVED it!  I was sort of lazy, though, and I didn’t cook anything beforehand, as the recipe recommends – I just threw it all in the crockpot the night before, started it the next morning, and then my house smelled like a freaking dream when I got home.  I topped this stew with toasted pepitas, pine nuts, and walnuts, and served with carrot apple muffins.

Hummus Crusted Chicken – So simple and easy! I didn’t serve mine with the squash and zucchini though.  I roasted carrots with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup for about 30 minutes, and then made a basic spinach salad to go along with all of it.

Kale Ricotta Gnocchi – This takes a little more time than most meals, so I recommend it for a lazy weekend evening.  This was one of those preparations that was meditative and lovely.  I truly enjoyed making this meal.  To make these a tad healthier, I substituted whole wheat flour for the white flour and part skim ricotta for the regular ricotta.  My gnocchi weren’t as pretty as hers, but who cares? They tasted pretty. I pan fried mine in the butter sage sauce and served with roasted butternut squash (tip: I like to leave the skin on my squash while it roasts and let it get nice and crispy.  It just adds another dimension of texture and flavor).
Hope you try some out and enjoy them as much as I did!

Final Stats
I’ll leave you now with the outcomes of this month.  I put on a couple pounds, but they were full of love, olive oil, and happiness so I’m ok with it.  Nothing else too earth shattering to report – but seriously, I can’t recommend this “diet” highly enough.  I hope I’ve made that clear.  Now pour yourself a glass of wine, get in the kitchen, and whip up some joy!

 

Goal/Normal

Smoothies

DASH

Low Fat

Sustainability

FMD

MedDiet

Anthros
Weight

121-60

124

123.5

123

123

125.5

127.5

BMI

18.5-24.9

19.5

19.5

19.25

19.25

19.7

20

PBF

21-32

19

?

?

?

?

?

WC

<35

27.5

?

26.5

27

27

27.5

HC

38

?

36.5

37

37.5

38

W:H Ratio

<0.8

0.72

?

0.73

0.73

0.72

0.72

Blood Pressure

<120/80

92/68

91/68

103/66

103/68

95/65

102/73

Diet
Total kcal

2000-2200

1980

1865

1780

1905

925-1688

1920

Protein (%)

Oct-35

17

15

22

19

15-61

16

CHO (%)

49-52

54

52

60

52

28-77

46

Fiber (g)

at least 25

33

30

23

25

30-52

28

Fat (%)

20-35

29

33

18

29

10-46

38

Sat Fat (%)

<10

7

8

7

8

3-7

7

Sodium (mg)

2300

2320

2147

2315

2282

1250-1740

2127

Potassium (mg)

4700

3925

3874

3143

3746

4014-4624

3826

Fruit/Veg (servings)

5-9

8-10

7-9

4-6

5-7

8-12

6-9

Cost

135.42

127.32

145.2

254.45

195.14

204.3

Fancy Food For Fun – Mediterannean Diet!

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This month I’ve been following the Mediterranean Diet.  I’m not going to go into any great deal on the specifics of the diet in this post (I’ll save that for the next one).  In short, the MedDiet is the traditional diet followed by the people that live along the Mediterannean Sea (go figure).  It is characterized by LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies, poultry and fish, whole grains, lots of olive oil, nuts and seeds, a little bit of dairy, and very little red meat.  And WINE!
I’ve had so much fun cooking over the last couple weeks, and I wanted to share some of my new recipes with you.  As a reminder, please apply the term “recipe” loosely.  I estimated the amounts of everything I used – I don’t measure. If you try something and don’t like it, it’s because I estimated incorrectly or because your tastebuds are broken.  You can choose the culprit.

From Brussels, With Love

Brussels Sprouts are my favorite vegetable.  If you just cringed, it’s because a) you’ve never actually had Brussels Sprouts or b) you haven’t had them made right.  Brussels Sprouts have a really nice bitter, but subtle flavor and they marry well with both savory ands sweet flavors.  The best combination out there is bacon and Brussels sprouts, but I like to add something sweet to balance it all out – typically dried cranberries or honey.
Here are a couple of my favorite ways to prepare B Sprouts.  Try them out if you hate (or think you hate) them or if you just want a new way to prepare these delicious little cruciferous veggies!

Triple B’s: Brussels Sprouts, Barley, and Bacon

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12-15 medium sprouts, ends and outer leaves removed, sliced in half along long axis
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 T honey
2 T olive oil
1.5 T balsamic vinegar
2 T dried cranberries
1 apple, diced
¼ cup  crumbled feta
3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
½ cup barley (I used 10 Minute Barley from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Whisk together honey, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl.
Combine sprouts and walnuts in a bowl and coat with sauce.  Spread  onto a roasting pan with all ingredients except bacon and barley.  Roast in over for 30-35 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook and chop bacon and cook barley according to package directions.
When fruits, veggies, and nuts are soft, take out of oven, mix in barley and bacon, and eat up!

Toasted SooFoo with Brussels Sprouts and Baked Salmon

SooFoo can be found in the health food section of many grocery stores (I got mine at Safeway).  It is a blend of brown rice; green, black, and brown lentils; rye and wheat berries; oats; barley; and buckwheat, making it a really tasty and great source of whole wheat grains.  I’ve also seen something similar to this at Trader Joe’s – I think it’s called Harvest Medley, and it takes less time to cook, making this a very easy dish to throw together when you don’t have a ton of time.
I’ve already given my spiel about my love for Brussels Sprouts, so I won’t go into that again.  Lastly, salmon is by far my favorite animal protein source.  It’s such a diverse, mellow flavored fish, and I never tire of cooking it.
So here was my attempt at combining this strange mix of grains along with my favorite veggie and protein.  I was pleasantly surprised at the result.

Serves 2-3

½ cup SooFoo
1 cup water
1 large salmon filet
~1-2 T olive oil
salt, pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
7-8 brussels sprouts, outside leaves and stems discarded and cut into ribbons
~2 T pine nuts
~3 T dried cranberries
4-5 dried apricots, roughly chopped
~2 T parsley, roughly chopped

In a small/medium saucepan, bring water and SooFoo to a boil, reduce to simmer for 40-50 minutes. You know how it goes :).
Meanwhile, drizzle salmon filet with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon juice on top.  Place in a cold oven, heat to 400°F, and take out in 25 minutes.  This is the best way I know to cook salmon.
When SooFoo is nearly done, start sautéing Brussels Sprouts and pine nuts in just a bit of olive oil (you don’t want them to be soaking, just enough so they don’t burn). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. After about 3-4 minutes, add in the SooFoo and a little more oil in order to toast the grains. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Mix in apricots, cranberries, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste
Serve salmon over veggie, fruit, and grain mixture.  Add parsley for garnish.
I ate this dish with a nice big glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, but I’m not going to pretend to know how to pair wine with food.  Whatever makes you happy! J

My oh my, the Pizza Pie!

Everyone loves pizza! And what’s better than pizza? Homemade pizza, that’s what! It’s so easy (and cheap) to make at home, and I don’t take advantage of it nearly enough. If you don’t want to make the dough, you can buy it in the freezer section at some grocery stores (Sprouts definitely has it; I haven’t checked elsewhere).  I really like making it, though, because it’s fun to see the whole thing come together from scratch.  Here are a couple of my most recent concoctions.
Use this recipe for Whole Wheat-ish Pizza Dough.  This will make enough dough for two pies.  You can easily halve it or you can just save the dough in a Ziploc bag – just make sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag.  I kept mine for 3 days in between pies; I don’t know how much longer it would last.

Pesto Mediterranean Pizza

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Whole wheat pizza dough (see above link)
Pesto (make from scratch by blending together some basil and olive oil until you get the consistency you want, add pine nuts/walnuts, salt and pepper to taste.)
Marinated artichoke hearts, sliced into ribbons
Marinated garlic stuffed olives, roasted red peppers, diced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese (I use 2% milk fat)
½ cup feta cheese
basil chiffonade

Preheat oven to 425°C.
This is pretty much a free for all.  Roll out the dough on a countertop covered in flour.  If you’re feeling adventurous, do some tosses to make the pie.  I didn’t do that.
Transfer the dough to a pizza stone or pan.
Spread pesto (however much you want) onto dough.  Cover pesto with veggies (the veggies I bought were just marinated in jars. I got them from Safeway, but use whatever you want.  There are no rules here).
Top veggies with mozzarella and feta cheeses and chiffonade basil leaves
Bake for ~15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.

Pumpkin, Spicy Sausage, Fried Sage, and Smoked Gouda Pizza

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Whole wheat pizza dough (see above link)
~1 cup pureed pumpkin
nutmeg and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 spicy turkey sausage, fried and crumbled
2 T olive oil, separated
1 cup smoked gouda, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese (I use 2% milk fat)
6-7 large leaves of sage, torn apart roughly
2-3 T pine nuts

Preheat oven to 425°C.
Start by rolling out the dough as before and transferring to pizza stone/pan.
Brush ~1 T olive oil onto dough. Spread pumpkin puree over the dough.  Sprinkle a little nutmeg and pepper over pumpkin.
Spread the cooked sausage over the pumpkin and top with cheeses.  I actually used only gouda in my pizza, but it’s not a very “melty” cheese.  I would recommend mixing with mozzarella in order to get more melt.
Sautee the sage and pine nuts in remaining oil over medium-high heat until sage is crispy and pine nuts are slightly browned.  Sprinkle them over the cheese.
Bake for ~15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.

Hope you enjoy these! Please let me know if you have any questions! Cheers 🙂

June, With Fewer Grains of Salt

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First, an update on my life.  If you read my last post (or know me), you know that I just moved to Boulder, CO.  Life here is pretty great so far.  You might say it’s Coloradical. I’ve spent the last month hiking, doing yoga, going to concerts…and that’s about it. You may be asking why I have been neglecting my blog if I’ve had so much time on my hands, and the answer is simple.  I live in Boulder, CO, and I don’t want to spend any time on my computer (if you are unfamiliar with the area, do a Google image search, and you’ll see why).  But don’t fret.  I have still been true to the experiment, and I’ve been following the DASH diet for the last month (minus the last nine days, as it’s now July).

Background

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) aims to reduce blood pressure and improve vascular health (my favorite topic).  Check out http://www.dashdiet.org for more info. The stars of the DASH diet are really fruits and vegetables, though emphasis is also placed on incorporating lots of beans and legumes, switching meat to lean meat, dairy to low or nonfat dairy, and making at least half of your grains whole grains.  Sounds like an overall healthy diet, right? Right.

In making these simple changes, what ends up happening by default is that you reduce your processed food intake, thereby reducing your sodium intake (fun fact: the majority of sodium in our diet comes from processed foods.  What we add from the salt shaker accounts for very little of our intake).  Additionally, by switching to all the whole foods mentioned above, you increase your intake of other vasoprotective minerals including potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

The goal of the DASH diet is to reduce sodium intake to 2300 mg/day (though the DASH-reduced sodium diet recommends 1500 mg/day for people with suboptimal blood pressure….which is 70% of the American adult population).  The average American consumes about 3700 mg/day (thanks, processed foods), but the reduction to 2300 mg/day isn’t difficult if you eat whole foods.  Even with this minor change, you can still see a reduction in blood pressure because you are increasing your intake of all the other vascular protective minerals, thereby counterbalancing the impact of sodium.  In fact, studies have shown that individuals who are moderately hypertensive who follow the DASH diet can show reductions of up to 6 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure after only 14 days.  These results are equivalent to that of the primary hypertensive medication on the market, ACE inhibitors.

The cool thing about the DASH diet is 1) there are absolutely no gimmicks, extra money, or bullshit promises involved, and 2) although the diet was originally designed to treat moderate hypertension, so many more benefits have been shown over the years.  It is now recommended for improving overall cardiovascular risk, reducing insulin resistance, reducing the risk of diabetes, and is a great tool for weight loss as well.  It’s one of the few diets that has stood the test of time and can easily be maintained over the long haul because it focuses on incorporating MORE into your diet (fruits, veggies), and consequently, reducing some of the less healthy options.

My Experience

To be honest, this was probably the easiest month for me, which was one of the reasons why I chose it now – I wanted something that would be fairly straight forward as I transitioned into my new life.  The biggest challenge for people as they transition into the DASH diet is to cut out processed food.  This isn’t much of an issue for me since I don’t eat much of that stuff these days.  My typical diet roughly follows the DASH recommendations, though I did focus on cooking more with spices and avoiding mindlessly adding salt to dishes as well as eating more fruits and veggies.  While it wasn’t a far cry from my actual diet, it was nice to have goals to focus on.  In doing so, it made my diet much healthier than normal. Here are some tips on how to easily incorporate the DASH plan into your life:

  • 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day keeps the heart disease away: To reach your fruit and veggie goal, eat at least one serving of F or V at every meal.  Also, replace all snacks with F or V.  For me, the easiest way to do Part 2 was to either just eat a piece of fruit or to eat baby carrots, sugar snap peas, or bell pepper slices with hummus (I don’t like veggies by themselves).
  • Spice up your life: Instead of immediately adding salt as your go-to season, try other spices first.  Cumin is my personal favorite spice, and garlic/onion powders are other good spices when you’re looking for a more savory flavor.  Fresh herbs also go a long way in adding flavor.  The DASH plan has also come up with the brilliant idea of marketing their own spices and marinades, Mrs. DASH.  These are sodium free flavor enhancers, and boy, are they tasty.  If after you have added all these other spices and still need a little somethin somethin, add a pinch of salt– you don’t need much.(Another fun fact: most of our taste buds serve some sort of survival mechanism.  Sweetness cues our brains that something is probably nutrient rich, like fruit, whereas bitterness is indicative of poisonous things, causing us to spit them out.  The love of saltiness, on the other hand, is not something that we are born with, and is instead a taste we grow to love.  I imagine the introduction to salt began when we started salting our meats as a preservative.  That tasted good and we love it.  However, we have not evolved to need/love it, and we can teach ourselves to love it less.  I’ve been working on this, and I have found that the less I eat salty foods, the more overpoweringly salty and terrible they taste when I do eat them, french fries excluded.  Give it a try!)
  • Hop on the whole grain train:  If you eat a lot of bread products, do whole wheat (beware of “multigrain” products.  While many are in fact made of multiple whole grains, others are simply multiple refined grains put into one product and are no better than their refined counterparts.  The ingredients list will tell you if they are whole or not).  Try whole grain pasta (many people hate it, I like it better), brown rice, quinoa, etc.  Get creative.
  • Skip the salt (another way): Buy canned vegetables/beans/sauces with no salt added.  They taste pretty meh, but you can always add your own salt.  Chances are that you’ll add less than what the saltier packaged counterparts include.

Final Stats

 

Goal/Normal

Baseline Data

Vegan

Paleo

WW

GF

Smoothies

DASH

Anthro
Weight

121-60

127.5

127.5

128.5

124

120

124

123.5

BMI

18.5-24.9

20

20

20.1

19.5

19

19.5

19.5

PBF

21-32

21.4

21.2

20.6

21.3

18.5

19.0

?

WC

<35

27.5

27.5

27.5

27.5

27.5

27.5

?

HC

38.5

37.5

38

38

38

38

?

W:H Ratio

<0.8

0.71

0.73

0.72

0.72

0.72

0.72

?

Blood Pressure

<120/80

113/77

101/69

105/72

110/70

93/65

92/68

91/68

Diet
Total kcal

2000-2200

1975

1809

1965

1900

1850

1980

1865

Protein (g)

77.5

57

100

75

78

80

70

Protein (%)

Oct-35

16

12%

20

16

17

17

15

CHO (%)

49-52

51

39-50

47

54

52

54

52

Fiber (g)

at least 25

26

42

32

27

29

33

30

Fat (%)

20-35

29.5

44-54

47

30

31

29

33

Sat Fat (%)

<10

7

8

8

7

7

7

8

Sodium (mg)

2300

2587

2138-2527

2132

2370

2250

2320

2147

Potassium (mg)

4700

3479

3959-4109

3742

3628

3658

3925

3874

Fruit/Veg (servings)

5-9

3-7

8-12

6-8

5-7

6-8

8-10

7-9

Cost

192.59

206.38

120.97

128.57

135.42

127.32

 

Since I moved, I haven’t had anywhere to measure my body fat or waist/hip circumference.  I’m not sure if my new lab will have those tools available; if not, that information may no longer be included.  I’m pretty sure nothing has changed, though.  Other than that, no real changes, other than my fat intake went up a few percentage points…. just in time for me to follow a low fat diet plan for July! I have kissed peanut butter, avocadoes, and pasta drenched in olive oil goodbye (ish).  So far, so OK…see you later this month! (But realistically, see you in the beginning-middle of August.  I suck at having a blog).

Sionara Smoothies!

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Smoothie month may have been my favorite month thus far.  I think that is likely due to the fact that smoothie month involved absolutely no restrictions – it was just an addition to my diet.  I was still able to eat all the food I wanted to, which made it super easy to adhere to the “diet.” And therein lies the problem with smoothies.  Smoothies are so easy to incorporate into the diet because they taste good.  But, as I’ve said before, they can be very calorically dense, which means that it’s easy to over-do the smoothie thing.

Last month I lost 4 pounds, and I was worried about the weight loss.  I started this month by replacing my breakfast with a smoothie.  I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to gain any weight that way.  Typically, breakfast for me consists of 400-500 kcals, and my average smoothie was probably about 300-350 kcals.  Clearly, that isn’t going to result in weight gain, so I decided to start drinking the smoothies as a snack in either the morning or the afternoon.  I found that I snacked less on empty calories and that I was able to regain the weight that I had lost the previous month.  This actually happened to be a perfect fit because I was able to get in plenty of extra, nutrient-dense calories. It’s easy to eat extra, empty calories (i.e. chips, cheese, candy, French fries, etc.), but those leave me feeling sluggish and lazy.  Packing in calories that were rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals is the best way I’ve ever put on weight.

Moral of the story: If you want to pack more nutrients into your day via smoothies, you can do it.  If you want to gain a little weight, add it to your normal diet.  If you want to lose a little weight, replace a meal with one. SCIENCE!

 I also have a few tips based off some of my experiences.

Some fruits/veggies don’t blend well: apples, mangoes, celery, grapefruit, carrots.  Whenever I added apples to my smoothies, they came out with the consistency of applesauce.  Mangoes – again, weird texture…the same is probably true of peaches, plums, etc.  Celery is really good when you juice it, though it also lends a weird consistency to a smoothie.  Grapefruit (maybe other citrus, I didn’t try any) wasn’t a good addition to smoothies.  The pith doesn’t break down well, and you’ll get weird “skins” throughout your smoothie, which is pretty gross.  I didn’t actually try to put carrots into my blender because experience and a brain told me that wouldn’t blend well.  However, carrots are a great veggie to juice, and carrot juice is delicious.  Drink it on its own or add to a smoothie of your liking.

Liquid is necessary.  This is pretty obvious, but there were some fruits that I thought had more liquid in them than they do (berries, mostly), and your smoothie will come out super thick and more like a puree than anything drink-able.  I usually just added water, coconut water, or almond milk to increase the drinkability of these smoothies.

For thickness/creamy texture: avocado, avocado, avocado.  I had never thought to put avo in a smoothie before, but it’s one of my favorite foods, so I tossed it in just to see what would happen.  Magic happened.  The avocado adds a very subtle flavor, but gives a smoothie a really silky texture.  Plus, avocadoes are full of monounsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium. Never a bad thing! Plain greek yogurt also gives a similar result.

And now for my favorite smoothie and my favorite juice. Sorry, as usual, for not real recipes.  As usual, I didn’t measure anything.  These are estimates – adjust accordingly.

Berry Avo Smoothie -This is tangy.  Replace the cranberry juice with coconut water if you want something a little sweeter.

½ avocado

¼ cup 100% cranberry juice

4-5 strawberries

handful each of blueberries, raspberries, and frozen cherries

dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt

~1 tbsp flax seeds

Carrot-Pineapple-Ginger Juice (2 servings) –This is amazing.  I only made a couple of juices because they’re a pain in the ass to make/clean up, but this one is SO good.  It just felt like I was giving my body a hug when I drank it.

6-7 full sized carrots

½ pineapple

2 celery stalks

A few quarter sized slices of fresh ginger (I LOVE ginger, so reduce this if you don’t)

 

Goal/Normal

Baseline Data

Vegan

Paleo

WW

GF

Smoothies

Anthro    
Weight

121-60

127.5

127.5

128.5

124

120

124

BMI

18.5-24.9

20

20

20.1

19.5

19

19.5

PBF

21-32

21.4

21.2

20.6

21.3

18.5

19.0

WC

<35

27.5

27.5

27.5

27.5

27.5

27.5

HC

38.5

37.5

38

38

38

38

W:H Ratio

<0.8

0.71

0.73

0.72

0.72

0.72

0.72

Blood Pressure

<120/80

113/77

101/69

105/72

110/70

93/65

92/68

Diet    
Total kcal

2000-2200

1975

1809

1965

1900

1850

1980

Protein (g)

77.5

57

100

75

78

80

Protein (%)

Oct-35

16

12%

20

16

17

17

CHO (%)

49-52

51

39-50

47

54

52

54

Fiber (g)

at least 25

26

42

32

27

29

33

Fat (%)

20-35

29.5

44-54

47

30

31

29

Sat Fat (%)

<10

7

8

8

7

7

7

Sodium (mg)

2300

2587

2138-2527

2132

2370

2250

2320

Potassium (mg)

4700

3479

3959-4109

3742

3628

3658

3925

Fruit/Veg (servings)

5-9

3-7

8-12

6-8

5-7

6-8

8-10

Cost

192.59

206.38

120.97

128.57

135.42

 

Again, sorry for the late post.  I just moved to Boulder, CO on Saturday, so things have been a bit hectic.  But don’t worry! I haven’t fallen off the diet-a-month train. This month I’ve started following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.  I won’t give too much away yet, but if you’re interested in improving your vascular health, stay tuned! I’ll give a nice physiology lesson on how sodium and potassium impact vascular function next time, and I’ll go through some basics of keepin your ticker and its extensions in good working order.

Dr. Oz’s “Three” Day Smoothie “Detox”

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As part of my Month O’ Smoothies Challenge, I decided to do one day of nothin but smoothies.  (As a reminder, my “diet” for this month is replacing my breakfast with a delicious, produce packed smoothie. Just one a day, nothing too crazy.)

There is a definite craze going on these days that supports the notion that we need to “detox” our bodies.  It’s hard to make a list of my least favorite  words that arise whenever people want to talk about health and nutrition because there are so many of them, but “detox” definitely makes the top 10…along with “anti-nutrient” (see my original post on Paleo for more information on that).  “Detox” is one of those very vague terms that floats around the media.  No one really knows what it means, but it sounds important, so people keep saying it.  Here are some important questions that you should chew over when considering a “detox.”
Q: What are the toxins of which you’re ridding your body when you go on a “detox”?
A: Pesticides? Inflammatory molecules? Antinutrients? Cancer? The boogey man?
I use question marks in my answer because I don’t know what the answer is.
Q: How, exactly, are drinking a bunch of fruits and vegetables going to rid your body of these toxins?
A: I’m not knocking fruits and veggies here.  If you’ve been paying attention this year, I’ve got nothing bad to say about them. But, unless you’re eating organic, you’re actually going to introduce pesticides (and who knows if that’s even a bad thing? I’ll go into detail on that when I do my Sustainability Month). Eating fruits and veggies that are packed with anti-inflammatory agents will promote health and reduce the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, but they aren’t going to get rid of the ones you have.  You can actually just eat lots of fruits and veggies on the reg — there isn’t some transformative value of putting them in a blender that gives them miniature superhero capes. And doing it for a day only isn’t really going to do anything at all.
Q: Does the body lack the ability to get rid of “toxins” (put simply, things that are bad for us)?
A: No, it doesn’t.  It actually has some really incredible organs called the small intestine, liver, and kidneys whose jobs are to prevent bad stuff from getting in / getting rid of The Badness when it does get in.  These organs stop working properly when they aren’t treated properly (i.e. binge drinking, doing drugs, eating an unhealthy diet).  The body is composed of a pretty incredible set of systems, and a single “detox” isn’t going to do much for them.  In fact, a detox could actually hurt those organs, because they require a proper balance of nutrients to work, and most “detox” programs are deficient in nearly every nutrient. A better program is to just eat a healthy diet full of foods that are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich components pretty much all the time.  But that just doesn’t have that glamorous ring to it, does it?
Q: What about cleanses? Aren’t those good? Don’t I need to cleanse my body? (This is sort of a tangential thought, but it seemed like the right time to answer this question).
A: No.  See above answer about the organs that get rid of bad crap — same thing.  Also, anything that involves a “colon cleanse” is a bad idea.  There are lots of really beneficial bacteria that have formed a symbiotic relationship with your gut – they live off what you eat and they help to promote a healthy immune system and overall keep your insides happy.  Don’t get rid of them. YOUR COLON SHOULD NEVER BE CLEAN (unless you’re getting a colonoscopy. Have fun with that).

The Detox
I decided to follow Dr. Oz’s three day smoothie detox because 1) I saw it on Pinterest, so I figured lots of other people had too; 2) I didn’t look for any others. This doesn’t mean that I support anything Dr. Oz says or does.  I don’t know everything he says because it makes me too angry to listen to him, but I do know that he’s a really important contributor to the propagation of whack ass health information out there. He’s making my life harder than it needs to be. Anyways, back to my smoothie challenge.  I decided ahead of time that I was only going to follow this thing for a day because it’s so low in calories, and I’m not trying to lose weight.  Also, I didn’t want to become a huge bitch due to not eating for a few days.  I was really just thinking about everyone else. You’re welcome, loved ones.

Here’s how it goes:

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I did take a fish oil supplement because I had one.  I didn’t take a multivitamin or a probiotic supplement because I didn’t have those, and I wasn’t going to spend money on them.  I also decided to do a nutrient analysis to see what my intake was for that day:

Nutrients Target Average Eaten Status
Total Calories 2000 Calories 1047 Calories Under
Protein (g)*** 46 g 21 g Under
Protein (% Calories)*** 10 – 35% Calories 8% Calories Under
Carbohydrate (g)*** 130 g 170 g OK
Carbohydrate (% Calories)*** 45 – 65% Calories 65% Calories OK
Dietary Fiber 25 g 37 g OK
Total Fat 20 – 35% Calories 36% Calories Over
Saturated Fat < 10% Calories 13% Calories Over
Monounsaturated Fat No Daily Target or Limit 11% Calories No Daily Target or Limit
Polyunsaturated Fat No Daily Target or Limit 8% Calories No Daily Target or Limit
Cholesterol < 300 mg 0 mg OK
Minerals Target Average Eaten Status
Calcium 1000 mg 658 mg Under
Potassium 4700 mg 3485 mg Under
Sodium** < 2300 mg 610 mg OK
Copper 900 µg 2840 µg OK
Iron 18 mg 8 mg Under
Magnesium 310 mg 405 mg OK
Phosphorus 700 mg 595 mg Under
Selenium 55 µg 13 µg Under
Zinc 8 mg 4 mg Under
Vitamins Target Average Eaten Status
Vitamin A 700 µg RAE 698 µg RAE Under
Vitamin B6 1.3 mg 1.6 mg OK
Vitamin B12 2.4 µg 0.0 µg Under
Vitamin C 75 mg 295 mg OK
Vitamin D 15 µg 1 µg Under
Vitamin E 15 mg AT 16 mg AT OK
Vitamin K 90 µg 833 µg OK
Folate 400 µg DFE 263 µg DFE Under
Thiamin 1.1 mg 0.9 mg Under
Riboflavin 1.1 mg 1.2 mg OK
Niacin 14 mg 7 mg Under

Clearly, I was deficient in nearly every nutrient, which is to be expected when there is absolutely no variety in the types of foods you’re eating. Some whole grains and a couple of lean protein sources could have done this body some good.  I was kind of surprised that this day didn’t provide more fiber (37 g is still pretty substantial, but that’s the goal for the average man, so it’s really not that much).  What’s most interesting to me is that a standard low calorie diet that is prescribed to someone trying to lose weight is 1200 calories.  This was only 150 shy of that, and I can think of a lot of lean, satiating foods that I could have eaten with the same number of calories and felt a lot better.  But pain is health, right? …Wrong.

My Experience

This day was pretty hard for me.  I tried to drink the smoothies slowly so that there wouldn’t be much time in between meals for me to get hungry.  It worked between breakfast and lunch, and I wasn’t too terribly hungry.  But the lunch smoothie was pretty weird.  The consistency was more like apple sauce than a smoothie, and I ended up eating it with a spoon.  It was also the only time that I did any chewing throughout the day, and it was pretty unsatisfying.  Which brings me to things that I couldn’t stop thinking about throughout the day: chewing, food, food, chewing, food, food, I hate vegetables, chewing, I hate fruit, food, food, food.  I also had some interesting cravings for things I really never crave including BBQ chips, fried chicken, orange chicken, fettucine alfredo, and Olive Garden breadsticks. Now that I’m not hungry, those things sound gross to me, but that’s what a day of low calories, low fat, low protein, and no salt will do to you. I’m pretty sure my attempt to detoxify my system only made me want to re-toxify by the end. Not really much of a homerun on the health front.
However, the smoothies were actually really good (minus lunch, whose flavor was nice, but was too weird of a texture to want to enjoy again), and I have since made them for breakfast. As you may have guessed, I noticed no positive changes in how I felt.  No little health cherubs descended from the heavens and kissed my forehead and eradicated all my ailments.  I ended the day disappointed and hungry and then went back to my normal, overall healthy eating pattern the next day.  What a sad, boring story.

Hoppin’ On That Smoothie Bandwagon

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201201-omag-juice-promo-284x426

I don’t know if I’m just noticing it because I’m in the field, but people seem pretty nuts about smoothies and juicing over the last few years.  As a nutritionist and a cynic, I always thought the whole thing was pretty stupid.  And by whole thing, I mean just the juicing part of the thing.

The Smoothie vs. Juice Debacle

To be clear, the difference between a smoothie and a juice really lies in the type of machinery that you use to make each.  A lot of people will use the term “juice” when they’re really talking about a smoothie, but make no mistake: they are not the same thing. A smoothie is made in a blender-like contraption in which you put whole fruits, vegetables, nut butters, milk, seeds, water — really whatever you want, and hit frappe.  Smoothies are actually a great way to pack in lots of fruits and vegetables in their whole from to make for a very healthy treat.  Of course, you can make these unhealthy by adding sugary yogurts, not including a variety of fruits and vegetables, and not taking the macronutrient content of your smoothie into consideration with what you eat for the rest of the day.  It’s so easy to ruin a good thing.

Juices, on the other hand, are made when you extract the juice of a fruit/vegetable from the fibrous part of the plant.  And therein lies the problem: you’re removing the fiber.  In my experience as a nutritionist, fiber seems to be one of the most forgotten components of the diet.  People seem to wave off recommendations to eat more fiber like they’re trying to shoo away an annoying fly.  But it’s just so important.
Fiber does wonderful things for your digestive tract.  You can’t absorb fiber (if you could, our food supply would be a lot more calorically dense), but all the healthy little bacteria in your intestines love it, and when they digest it, they produce short chain fatty acids that are involved in protecting the colon from cancer.  And who doesn’t love cancer protection? Fiber also helps to reduce cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease (which is why you’ll see that packages for foods like oats have the American Heart Association seal of approval for Heart Health).  It also helps to reduce belly bloat and increase feelings of satiety (fullness).  Bottom line, eat lots of fiber.
So back to my original point: juices extract the fiber.  In doing so, this creates a lot of waste, which is sad to see because all of that “waste” could be improving your GI and heart health. Additionally, because juices are devoid of fiber, people tend to over-drink them as well.  As I said, fiber helps you to feel full, and without that fiber, many of the body’s normal cues that tell it to stop eating don’t exist.  While juices are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, they can also be pretty high in calories.
I’ve seen this happen numerous times: people start juicing as an addition to their regular diet.  They make no other changes, and they assume that they are doing something super healthy by juicing, but for some reason, they slowly start to put on weight. I think juices cause people to forget the basics of nutrition.  Fruits and vegetables DO have calories (I know, WHAT?!), and a serving of a whole fruit or vegetable is typically fairly low in calories because fiber and water make up the majority of the volume.  When you juice, though, you’re probably using 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables to make one juice.  Taken together, that adds up to a lot of extra calories.  Tack on all those extra calories to your normal diet, and you’ll start gaining weight.  So, this isn’t to say that juices in and of themselves are evil, because they are actually a really great way to get in A LOT of nutrients, but it’s all in how you use them.  And most people use them incorrectly.  The calorie issue is also present in a smoothie — however, because the smoothies have fiber, you typically can’t drink as much of a smoothie as a juice.  Plus, because they are thick (unlike a juice), it takes more time to drink one, so your stomach and brain have time to realize that you’re eating and send the signal to stop once you’re full.  Lastly, because of the fiber and anything you add to the smoothie (yogurt, nut butters, etc.), the smoothie can be hearty enough to replace a meal, so that you’re not actually adding calories to your day.
Here is a really amazing blog post from a Registered Dietitian about some of the problems with juice fasts/cleanses.  This lady totally speaks my language and she hits on a lot of the issues with the pseudo-science that abounds in popular culture and all over the internet.

30 Day Smoothie Challenge

What I’ve decided to do for May is simply to replace my breakfast with a smoothie everyday.  “How is this a diet?” you ask. It really isn’t, but it is a pretty big trend right now, particularly green smoothies.  With one of these breakfast smoothies, I average 4 servings of fruits/vegetables in a very portable, easy to consume “meal.” I really just want to see if I feel any different by adding this many servings of fruits and vegetables to my diet.

I’m 15 days in to the challenge, and I’ve started to get pretty creative with my smoothie skills.  Here are some of my criteria for this challenge:
-Every smoothie has to have at least one serving of vegetables
-Throughout the week, I have to drink smoothies that contain produce from a variety of different colors. Sometimes this means that all those colors go into one smoothie (i.e. mango, kale, and blueberries all in one). Other times it means that I’ll have a purple smoothie one day, an orange one the next, green on another day…etc. Eat the rainbow!
-Any “base” has to be unsweetened (i.e. unsweetened almond milk, plain coconut water, plain yogurt).  The fruits already have enough fructose to make the smoothies sweet. No need to add more.
-Every smoothie has to have a protein and/or a fat source.  Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients (Vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids).  Protein just makes it more well rounded, though I’m not too worried about the protein bit because I get enough protein in the rest of my diet. This typically means that I add some kind of nut butter, avocado, plain Greek yogurt, or a little olive oil to each smoothie.

At the end of the month, I’ll share some recipes of my favorite smoothies! And probably some of the failures too…