RSS Feed

Maisie’s Pumpkin Pie

Pie Pic.
*Pumpkin Pies taste better when you use freshly roasted pumpkin. Choose the small orange ones that weigh about 1.5 pounds each

*Prepare the pie shell, and put it in the freezer while making the filling.

Ingredients:

Pastry for Single-Crust Pie:

2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½  cup shortening

¼  cup cold butter

6 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

2 ½ cups mashed, cooked pumpkin

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

¾  cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons of molasses

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½  teaspoon ground ginger

½  teaspoon ground nutmeg

½  teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F (190 °C).

  1. Put washed pumpkin on a cookie sheet and roast for about 1 hour, let cool. Cut in half, discard all the seeds and scoop soft pulp off the skin into a small bowl
  2. Prepare pie crust by mixing together the flour and salt. Cut shortening and butter into flour (use a food processor if you have one).
  3. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time (you may need only 4 tablespoons, or up to the 6 tablespoons). Pulse until the dough holds together and knead into a ball (quickly you want to handle as little as possible).
  4. With lightly floured hands on a lightly floured board roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut dough 1 1/2 inch larger than the upside-down 9- to 10-inch pie pan. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it right-side up onto the pie pan.
  6. Unroll, easing dough into the bottom of the pie pan. Crimp the edges of the pie crust with a fork or by pinching into a design.
  7. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  8. Mash the pumpkin pulp with a potato masher or an immersion blender until thick and smooth. Add evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and blend well.
  9. Pour into a prepared crust. Bake 50 minutes or until when a knife is inserted 1 inch from the edge it comes out clean.
  10. Chill well, overnight if possible and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and I like to add a zest of orange rind.

**Note people who tell you they hate pumpkin pies will eat multiple slices of this one, and then ask for the recipe. That’s why I am sharing it here.

Here you go Mesha-Enjoy!!

STOP RIGHT THERE! STILL TOSS THE MARGARINE

images

The big announcement came on September 15—“Minister Petitpas Taylor is pleased to announce that Health Canada has taken the final step to ban partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—the main source of industrially produced trans fats—in all food sold in Canada.”

The announcement goes on to say:

“Trans fats raise “bad” (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and lower “good” (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels in the blood. By banning PHOs, Health Canada will reduce trans fats in the Canadian food supply to the lowest level possible, which will help reduce Canadians’ risk of heart disease.”

So there it is, the announcement I have waited for since I was a nutrition student at the University of Toronto. I should be happy but of course I am not. What would have made me happy? This announcement:

“Man-made fats have proven to be one of the worse public health mistakes ever, they have contributed to heart disease and have affected the life span of many Canadians…do not eat man made fats including margarine and shortening, toss that crap in the garbage and eat butter, it’s been around since time began the ingredient list is short and it is the devil you know.”

No, I do not work for the Dairy Industry and there is no profit to me if you eat butter but my family members will tell you for years they would walk quickly past a margarine or shortening display rather than buy something and risk one of my voice of doom rants about man-made fats. It was at University that I first heard of Professor Bruce Holub a nutrition scientist at the University of Guelph and the first scientist I ever heard speak about the potential dangers of trans fats in the human diet. His research always made perfect sense to me mostly because I wanted it to. Butter tastes good, requires minimum processing and has a short ingredient list that I do not need my science degree to read, for me that makes it a top choice.

I mention Professor Holub only to point out that the dangers of PHOs and trans fats are not new, but as a Canadian researcher he may not have pulled heavy media attention at the time, then along came the Harvard School of Public Health with this statement:

“In 1981, a group of Welsh researchers speculated that trans fats might be linked with heart disease.  A 1993 Harvard study strongly supported the hypothesis that intake of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils contributed to the risk of having a heart attack.”

So we had some knowledge in 1981 and pretty definitive scientific evidence by 1993 and now we are giving the food industry enough time to get ready for a ban in 2018!

You can hand the Food Industry your heart health while they reformulate, but I think you may want to stop using margarine or shortening right now and avoid any baked goods or fast foods that contain PHOs.

I can already hear you saying it: “But Maisie there are lots of margarines on the market with 0% trans fats and no PHOs, we can still buy those.” No you can’t, In Canada and the USA Zero is not really Zero. In Canada anything under 0.2 grams of trans fat can be labelled as zero, in the USA it is 0.5 grams. So up to 0.2 grams or put another way, up to 200 milligrams of trans fat is not really zero is it? When Cholesterol was the big fear anything over 300 milligrams would freak us out but somehow because trans fats are listed to look small we think we are really getting zero, that is a win for the food industry and a failure on the part of Health Canada.

Another failure on the part of Health Canada? A whole lot of Canadians will be looking for PHO’s on the label, few will be looking for the word ‘Modified’ but Health Canada makes it clear in this link: modified/hydrogenated, that these are one and the same. So do not be fooled you will see a lot of margarines with Modified Palm and Palm Kernel Oils, combine that with the zero trans fat levels that are really not a zero at all and you will understand why I say, take a pass, buy butter, just use it in moderation.

images2

 

Splenda How Truvia Are Equal

Splenda How Truvia Are Equal

When I was a young Dietitian just starting out in the field I recommended to the family doctor in the health centre I worked in that he give ginger tea to the pregnant clients who were having a lot of nausea and vomiting. I even offered to make up a batch and explained that the trick was not to peel the fresh ginger root because the effective ingredients were in the papery brown skin. He gave me that look that all allied health providers would instantly recognize it’s that look that says can we leave medical practice up to real doctors or more bluntly get thee behind me Satan! Needless to say ginger tea was not tried but a few months later he did make a point of coming by my office to show me an article in some prestigious medical journal suggesting Ginger Tea might be an effective way to treat pregnant clients with severe nausea and including a recipe, I gave him back the same look and he got out fast!

On September 28th the Toronto Star published a column by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen on the steady drop in sales of diet soda because people were getting a lot of negative news about no-calorie sweeteners. This news may have been news to our esteemed Physicians but it comes as no surprise to many dietitians or to any member of my family. You see, we are a family that lives long and fairly well with diabetes, we are old school, we were genetically predisposed to diabetes long before it reached epidemic levels in North America and yet my grandmothers lived to be 97 and 99 years old. Among the family members with diabetes there is no one who uses no-calorie or artificial sweeteners. I’m not sure if I have ever seen diet soda at a family function and they all know that The Canadian Diabetes Association guidelines allow for a small amount of sugar, honey etc. at each meal so there is absolutely no need to buy fake sugar.
From the day I started practising as a Dietitian I have never asked a client to use a no-calorie sweetener, I have never accepted anything from the companies that made them and I have thrown out any samples they sent to me because common sense told me that what we needed is a gradual lessening of our love of the taste of sugar not a substitute for sugar. And I have been proven correct because family members who have had diabetes for many years tell me even 2 teaspoons of sugar in a drink is way too sweet and they can get by with one or even a half of a teaspoon; they have lost the taste for it.

The one thing in The Star column that was a surprise to me is how much of an effect these non-calorie sweeteners have on the brain and your metabolism. I knew that clients who used them often appeared to be hungrier and ate more but now it seems they are also implicated in metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes and diabetes. So I now ask myself, even if you do not have diabetes could a steady intake of diet soda and no-calorie sweeteners be putting you on the path to diabetes? Why take a chance, might I suggest some fresh ginger tea sweetened with a bit of honey instead!

Packing Enjoyable School Lunches

 

Let’s start with a clear agreement here, packing school lunches is stressful! How could it not be? As noted in my previous blog you are dealing with an age group who have just learned to assert their independence through food. You have School Boards where some of childrens’ favourite proteins; peanut butter and tuna fish are banned. There is no refrigeration of the lunches in most schools and you have to compete with the paid lunch programs or pre-packed supermarket lunch snack packs which are really just junk food in disguise. If you’re not stressed given all of these factors then I want to be you. Things do get easier eventually as children will get to the stage of packing their own lunches and at that point you can set some ground rules around including fruit and vegetables, but leave most of the decision-making up to them. Until you get to that stage here are a few ideas.

 

Keeping Lunches Cold:    There are a lot of cute ice packs on the market in all different shapes and sizes. Put one in a Zip-top freezer bag before you add it to the lunch bag. When the ice pack thaws it will sweat and the sealed bag will stop it from wetting up the rest of the lunch. Keeping juice, milk cartons and yogurt cups in the freezer is another good alternative to the ice pack. They will thaw out throughout the day and provide a cold beverage/snack and a cooler lunch. Put them in a sealed bag too.

 

Keeping Lunches Hot:     Pasta in sauce, chicken fried rice and cream of tomato soup have all beenamong  my daughter’s favourite leftovers to put in a thermos for lunch the next day. We find the thermos’ that hold about 2 cups to be best and be prepared to try a different brand because we found foods tasted different at lunch time depending on the inside lining of the thermos. Metal and glass seemed to work better than the plastic lined ones.

Lunch 2Sandwiches:     These have a reputation for being boring which has always surprised me because the variations are limitless.

  • Breads: Sliced whole wheat, whole wheat that looks like white bread, sourdough, raisin bread, corn bread and rye bread
  • Buns: Bagels in all flavours, onion buns, crusty rolls, submarine buns and small dinner rolls. A couple of small sandwiches made on dinner rolls will go over well with younger children they seem to like the kid-sized look.
  • Wraps: Pita bread, flour tortillas, corn tortillas, Naan and Roti
  • Fillings:  Roast chicken sliced up, sliced turkey, sliced ham or roast beef  will all go over well if the child likes meats. Tuna and salmon if they will eat fish.
  • Fillings:  Cream cheese and avocado slices, peanut butter and jelly (if allowed), hummus and roast vegetables, cheese (shredded/sliced) and tomato for the vegetarian or vegetarian stage because many children go through a period when they do not want meats or poultry.
  • Toppings and Flavourings:  Mayonnaise, Mustard, Salsa, Chutneys, Relishes, Pesto and Ketchup (yes even Ketchup) can all add a burst of flavour to a sandwich along with the usual lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles. Keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, it’s easy to make and gives whole new flavour to sandwiches, I will place a recipe under “featured recipes”

Lunch 3Thinking Outside the Sandwich Box:     If your child starts to complain about the sandwiches becoming boring try a deconstructed sandwich packed in a sealed container.

  • Line a box with a lettuce leaf, put a small bunch of grapes in the corner, and throw in a few portions of cheese, BabyBel, cheddar portions or brie portions. We found a brand called Coeur de Lion which is a mini ball of brie that is delicious. Add baby carrots or broccoli flowerets. Add a portion pack of salad dressing or put in a small container of dressing you have at home. Wrap a small buttered dinner roll and put into the lunch bag.
  • Or line the box with lettuce, cut a small avocado in half, leave it in the skin and squeeze some lime or lemon juice on top. Fill the rest of the box with vegetarian sushi, homemade or store brought and add a small container of salsa. Include a little bag of crackers, any brand your child likes.
  • A scoop of tuna, salmon or egg salad also works on a bed of lettuce with carrot, celery or apple sticks and cherry tomatoes. Try to always include a bag of crackers or a roll and whenever possible mustard, salsa or dressings.

Beverages:   Whatever the lunch is made up of include a beverage. Milk, juice, chocolate milk or water, frozen as mentioned above and try as long as you can to make it milk. From milk or yogurt children get calcium and vitamin D and far too many are missing out on these nutrients which help form strong bones and teeth.

And finally include a ‘treat’; we use cookies, muffins, puddings, iced cakes, those granola bars that are really just chocolate bars or candy. Don’t agonize about adding these less than nutritious foods, if it will help them to eat most of what is in the lunch bag and make the meal more enjoyable it’s well worth it. After all here is the dirty little secret of lunches…..….there is no guarantee it won’t end up in the garbage or traded for a bag of chips and some French fries from a friend’s lunch, so if the ‘treat’ increases your odds pick your battles!  For lots of good lunch ideas simply type in  “packed lunches” in an online search, your head will spin with ideas, lunch need never be boring.Lunch 1

FEEDING HELL: AGES 3 TO 8

 fussy eater 

Quick question, what is one of the hardest things you will do as a parent. Answer: feed a child between the ages of 3 and 8 years old. Survive those 5 years and you will have learned a lot about yourself. You see at age 3 they are starting to understand free will and the power of ‘No’.  By age 8 they understand the power of wearing down mommy and daddy and the joy of watching you supress anger.

These are the years of no sauce/gravy touching other foods, no vegetables touching anything else on the plate and no texture changes like fruit chunks in yogurt. What parent has not watched while their child carefully separated the corn from the rice and the chicken from the mashed potatoes or seen them throw a fit because the gravy touched the carrots. Were you a parent who wondered how long can a child live on pasta with a little butter and cheese or plain boiled rice or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Well if you made it through that stage of development congratulations but for those who are just currently walking this road let me offer a little advice:

  1. Nothing they do will last forever, one day they will laugh when you tell them about the year they ate almost nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and rice.
  2. Don’t waste your time trying to argue with them except to make an agreement that while they are eating the same things every day a couple of fruits and vegetables have to be added in daily. There are usually one or two of these that they are willing to eat, bananas, clementines, apple chunks, carrot sticks and broccoli with a dip being among the more popular.
  3. If you try to force them to eat more variety or try something new, You Will Lose! Children that age do not have jobs; they have nowhere they need to be in a hurry. The offending bit of meat, fish or vegetable that they do not want to eat can sit inside their jaw for 4 hours or more, un-chewed, un-swallowed, just parked, believe me I have seen it.
  4. One day around 9 or 10 years old they will suddenly reach for a new food either from your plate or from the plate of a friend. A harp will play, a halo will appear above their heads and after that they will offer to help pack their own lunches and help you cook dinner! Make no comment; just accept that you passed out of purgatory and into the light.

Next: Packing Lunches

My Dream Restaurant Menu

In a perfect world my restaurnat menu would be short, easy to read and done by a chef not an advertising executive who used polling numbers to tell him what would sell.

STARTERS

Creamed Mushrooms and Onions on Crispy Bread Rounds

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with a dollop of Maple Cream

Figs, Avocado,Tomato Salad on a bed of Lettuce with a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

MAIN COURSE

Pan Fried Halibut with a Mango-Tomato Chutney. Seasoned Rice

Spinach and Cheese Baked Ziti with home-made  Marinara Sauce. Grilled Vegetables

Oven-Roasted Chicken  with a Pesto Cream Sauce. Glazed Baby Carrots and Couscous with Chick Peas

New York Sirloin Steak, Brown Butter Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Parsnip/Sweet Potato Chips

Creamy Scallop and Shrimp in Puff Pastry. Steamed Seasonal Vegetables

DESSERT

Perfect Flan, see Featured Recipe section

Cream Puffs with fresh Caramel Sauce

Homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream with a Dark Chocolate Square

TO FINISH

A really big mug of steaming Coffee or Tea

Restaurant Rant

Restaurants have become like shoes. Used to be you could buy a nice stylish pair of shoes, made of good quality leather for a reasonable price.  Now for the same price you get plastic or poor-quality leather shoes with dumb glitter and five-inch heels that no one can walk in. Mid-range quality is gone, all that is left is  totally cheap or really high-end at exorbitant prices.

Over the holidays when I tend to eat out more it dawned on me that restaurants now had the same problem. They were either a family casual  “bar and grill” with remarkably similar menus or higher end “white table-cloth service” restaurants where you paid a lot more but really ate nothing that tasted special. I admit that I might be a tough audience to please because 1) I cook all the time and love my own food  and 2) I’ve worked in the industry and know that for some  marketing has become more important than taste. Read the descriptors on the menu and you think you will be transported to nirvana with every bite until the sorry result lands on your plate.  But seriously, is it not possible to have a decent meal anymore that is tasty and memorable for $40–$50 per person with a beverage? Herein lies my pet peeves:

  1. Yes you are a “Bar and Grill” or “Casual Family” restaurant but your menu can still show some creativity. French Fries, Chicken Wings, Fajitas, Burger, Chicken Fingers, overdone Pasta and bad  Sauces,  Dried out Kebabs and flavourless mini desserts are not what we all want, it’s just all you offer us, try offering something else, even one different dish you may be pleasantly surprised.
  2. If I opt for the Dinner Salad should I really be tired after I am done eating it? How much bigger can these things get and how much less nutritious? If you have a pound of cheese, chicken, meat or fish, copious amounts of nuts and seeds and deep-fired tortilla or noodle strips tossed into the salad why bother to put the dressing on the side, just dump that sucker in and finish the job.
  3. You can in fact survive without the Deep Fat Fryer, go ahead, I dare you give it a try, even restaurants where you are paying the big bucks are so reliant on this method of cooking. Fancy starter shrimp deep-fried in coconut or tempura batter, deep-fried mushrooms, cheese balls, vegetable sticks, bananas and even ice-cream. Come on, after a while no matter what you started with they all end up tasting the same, like fryer oil.
  4. Please God they are Vegetarians not horses! Lay off the roasted and grilled vegetable casseroles and sandwiches that you need horses teeth to chew. Once in Italy I had a totally vegetarian Risotto with seasoned cannellini beans and sautéed mushrooms it was so good I can still taste it! A little more creativity for the vegetarians among us and a little less gas please.
  5. While your treating the vegetarians better how about actually cooking the basic starches for the rest of us on the premises. You don’t have to buy Mashed Potatoes and Wild Rice Pilaf frozen in a bag. We can do that at home if we want, we thought your were a restaurant and someone would actually cook them from scratch.
  6.  Whether high-end or cheap,Your Desserts Suck! No one is fooled by the “special” dessert that has to be ordered when you sit down because it takes time to make, really, is your microwave slow? Those “special” desserts are not made in-house, they are frozen and you got them where everyone else gets theirs. I would kill for a creme caramel, flan, custard, call it what you want–that tastes like fresh milk, cream and eggs instead of just cornstarch paste! This is the world’s simplest dessert I can make it with one hand tied behind my back, how is it possible that in all restaurants it is totally flavourless. And don’t get me started on the cakes and pastries, all designed to look fancy and pretty and taste like nothing. I’ve learned my lesson, if I’m going to have a “treat” wait til I get home and have a Vachon Flaky, better the devil you know.
  7. When the menu is so big no one at the table can open it fully without smacking someone in the head, try a little brevity, cut it short. Here’s an idea keep it to one page and only put food on it that tastes good.
  8. No Its Not My Birthday, Please Don’t Sing To Me, I Came In Looking For Food.

All joking aside, lots of studies have shown that flavourless foods tend to result in people eating more because our brains have memories of tasty meals and continues to search  for that flavour. It is the reason why in many parts of the world people eat smaller portions but get up from the table feeling satisfied. Even a simple dish of roast chicken, rice and vegetables, cooked with care and a few herbs  can leave you feeling like a king.  We are not doing ourselves any favours eating large portions of flavourless foods at these restaurants, after all we share a border with people who have already gone that route.

P.S. Never say I just criticize, in my featured recipe section I will post a menu that I think restaurants ought to try along with a recipe for flan/custard-the worlds simplest dessert.

Natural Remedies In Their Natural Form–Part 2

     

                   

             BROMELAIN         and             PAPAIN

It’s about time I got back to posting, Christmas was crazy this year and everything seems to be happening at once so it is nice to catch my breath and finally get back to my favourite place.

Nothing is a better example of natural foods best taken in their natural form than Bromelain and Papain, fancy names for the digestive enzymes in pineapples and papayas. When I counselled clients I would often hear complaints about indigestion or slow digesting of meals where you just felt full long after eating. It is true that as we age our digestive juices do tend to weaken so heavier meals higher in protein are slower to digest. Plus many of us dilute our stomach’s natural acids with lots of beverages as we eat. Naturally as soon as we notice a health “problem” someone is eager to make some money by offering us the fix and in some stores that fix comes in the form of “digestive enzymes” for as much as $40 a bottle. Save your money and buy the fresh pineapple or papaya because the tablets you buy at the health food store will never work as well as the slices of pineapple or papaya that you eat after a meal. In countries like Brazil and Hawaii a heavy meat meal is often followed by grilled or raw pineapple or papaya, experience has taught them the best way to digest a heavy meal.

The secret is in the enzymes. In pineapple it is called Bromelain and it breaks down (digests) meat protein. In papaya the enzyme is called Papain and it has very similar effects to Bromelain, both can be found in capsules of digestive enzymes and powdered meat tenderizers e.g. Adolphs Meat Tenderizer. Most people find the fruit versions of these enzymes to be all they need when digestion slows and most importantly the fruits do not contain any additives or boosters. The other day I saw a bottle of digestive enzymes and  it also contained peppermint extract. Now dietitians know mint tends to loosen the valve at the entrance to your stomach and allows stomach acids to leak back up your esophagus and that can make acid reflux much worse. If you are having trouble digesting your meal do you really want more heartburn? Minty taste tends to make people’s mouth feel refreshed so many remedies have mint but within minutes of taking it chances are your stomach will feel much worse. When I last checked my pineapple and papaya did not come in “minty fresh” but they work just fine.
These two enzymes have been studied extensively and many claims have been made about their ability to cure serious medical conditions. When you get a chance read more about them but the only thing I can tell you for sure is what my old granny told me, you will never have trouble digesting a meal if you have some pineapple or papaya as your last course!

10 TIPS TO SURVIVE CHRISTMAS EATING

I’ll get back to my natural remedies in their natural food form at my next post, first a quickie Christmas eating survival guide. Listed from best food/beverage choice to worst:

  1. Turkey. Roasted lean meat, even with a little skin it’s a good choice
  2. Vegetables, steamed or oven roasted and Salads made with vegetables. It’s not a salad if it is mostly cheese, nuts, potato and pasta. Use any salad dressing just not creamy ones. (Ranch)
  3. Cranberry Sauce*. Make it at home, it’s really easy and throw in some apples or pears to boost nutrients and fibre
  4. Mashed Potatoes. Try mashing with a little chicken broth instead of milk and use less butter
  5. Rice dishes like Rice and Peas. Don’t use solid coconut cream, use coconut milk and dilute it with 2% milk
  6. Gravy. A couple of tablespoons won’t do you any harm, it’s the floating sea of gravy that we fear
  7. Pies. Fruit pies like Apple or Peach are at least doable. Cream or Nut pies will astound with the fat and calories increase, stick with the fruit
  8. Eggnog. One 8 ounce cup can set you back 290 Calories and 11 grams of Fat. Fat intake for an adult for an entire day is 65-75 g., better not have a second cup!
  9. Stuffing. Sausage meat, giblets, oil soaked bread, no pretenses here!
  10. Cream Liqueurs. 327 Calories and 13 grams of Fat in 100 ml, that’s less than ½ a cup! Just a reminder that during the holidays we are drinking our fat.

Final thought, aim to weigh the same amount on January 1st as you did back on December 1st that way you won’t start the new year with more guilt.

*See my favourite cranberry sauce recipe in the Featured Recipes Section

Natural Remedies In Their Natural Form

Natural Remedies may need to come directly from real plants and real food. When we use these remedies in non-food capsules, pills or liquids we may not only lose their effectiveness but may end up thinking they just don’t work. Our grannies spent years passing down low cost remedies that worked for them, then we turned them into expensive capsules, which researchers keep telling us are ineffective or maybe even dangerous, like this recent Globe and Mail article.  The following natural food remedies do help for minor ailments in their natural form so with the knowledge of your health care provider give them a chance.

Cranberries 

 Some Native Americans have used cranberries for years whenever they had urinary problems yet the research supporting cranberries for this purpose is inconclusive. Maybe it’s because we don’t use them the way Native people did, which was just to chew on the raw berries daily until the problem went away. I have had one urinary tract infection in my life, it was during pregnancy. I talked to my obstetrician and he suggested antibiotics but I had made a pact with myself to take no pills except pregnancy vitamins so I told him I would boil whole cranberries and drink the water for a week, if the infection was not gone by then I would take the antibiotics. I drank three cups of boiled cranberry water daily for 4 days and the infection was gone. Maybe they are just meant to be used in this way, sour as hell though.

Ginger

I once worked in a Community Health Centre where I tried to convince the Physician to suggest Ginger Tea to pregnant women who were having a lot of nausea in the first three months. He said no scientific evidence and could be some adverse effects. Three months later he showed me an article in a Canadian medical journal suggesting physicians give ginger tea a try for pregnant clients with nausea; they even had a recipe for ginger tea!

Ginger is a plant medicine that has used in many parts of the world for over 2000 years yet there is still inconclusive scientific evidence; maybe the problem again is we are trying to “pill” it. Let’s try ginger in its natural form. For nausea, wash about a 2 inch piece of fresh gingerroot, hit it a few times to slightly crush it and put it in a litre of water. Boil about 5 minutes and sip tea as needed for nausea, keep the leftovers in the fridge and reheat as needed. Most important thing here, the papery ginger skin with all its natural oils is never removed, maybe that’s the secret.

Fish Oils

Omega 3 fatty acids are another area where research can be confusing, just this week a researcher looked at fish oil supplements and concluded that the best way to help your heart may be to eat fish! But many people hate fish so we have capsules but do capsules make any sense? If you hate fish is it really any better to burp fishy breathe after taking a bunch of fish oil capsules? Maybe you are not meant to eat fish, somehow people who hate fish have managed to survive. This is where a varied diet is your best friend. Some plants like Algae contain omega 3 fatty acids, maybe fish haters in the past ate enough varieties of food that they managed to get the nutrients that they needed without supplements.

 Stop with the pills, capsules and drops lets try herbal remedies in their non-processed form. Next time I will look at a few more of those natural remedies that we ought to get in food form.

High Blood Pressure The Salty Truth

Salt. by deKenter

I am going to take a little rest from Diabetes for this blog but still cover a related topic, Hypertension or High Blood Pressure. A pretty common condition in people with or without diabetes.

High Blood Pressure has many causes some of which you cannot control like Ethnicity or Family History. Black Canadians for example are much more likely to have high blood pressure than other Canadians and people with several family members who have high blood pressure are more likely to as well.  Things you can control include high salt intake and high levels of stress.  Our old friend Stress once again rears its ugly head and we have talked about that before but Salt, well today we tackle Salt. By the way if you want more details on Blood Pressure visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s excellent page on this topic.

Even if you do not have high blood pressure one thing is not in dispute, Canadians eat way too much salt (sodium chloride) on a daily basis, recent reports have said we eat even more than our American cousins which is amazing when you consider the prevalence of fast foods high in salt in the USA.

Salt, the sodium part in particular is needed by your body to regulate fluid balance and in the function of many organs and glands and our tongues have fairly large areas that are stimulated by sugars and salts but this is not why we have gone overboard in its consumption. Salt is inexpensive, it enhances the flavour of many foods and can act as a preservative, in other words it is the perfect addition in the food industry. Chicken and shrimp can be soaked in a saltwater solution to maintain plumpness even after packaging and freezing. Sauces and dips with salt added will be tastier to our tongue and are less likely to grow bacteria. The naturally occurring sodium or the occasional sprinkle from the salt shaker we use at the table are not the real problem, the real problem lies in the pre-made foods that we buy, everything from bread to cereals to meat and canned vegetables.

If you have high blood pressure or if you just want to improve your diet you will want to eat less salt, here is how to start:

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables. I know, I know the same old advice but there is a reason they don’t come with a nutrition labels, not much sodium or salt to worry about.
  2. Try looking at food labels for the amounts of Sodium. Currently Health Canada guidelines are set at 1500 mg per day as an Acceptable amount and a Maximum Upper Limit of 2300 mg per day for adults. So if you pick up a pickle jar and it says one pickle has 480 mg that is about 20% of the Maximum amount of daily sodium (many food companies use 2400 mg as their upper limit) you should have in a day. That’s a lot for one dill pickle.
  3. Even faster than label reading is knowing the likeliest sources of too much salt:
    1. Corned as is corned beef, pork, pigtail etc., means to put in a salty brine with sodium nitrate or some other sodium
    2. Deli Meats, pepperoni, bacon, hams, even turkey breast are likely to have been processed with salt or sodium nitrate
    3. Mustards, Ketchups, Relishes, Pickles, Soy Sauce, Salsas, Chutneys and Dips. The condiment portions may be small but they usually come with a wallop of salt
    4. Canned Vegetables e.g. Corn and Canned Fish e.g. Tuna and Anchovies are all likely to have salt added for the preservative effect, go with frozen vegetables whenever possible and fish packed in water
    5. All soups and dried soup mixes. You can make a perfectly good pot of soup at home and at the end add a package of Maggi Soup Mix or Cock Noodle Soup Mix and send the salt level through the roof, try adding a tablespoon of my homemade spice blend instead (see featured recipe section), all the flavour without the salt!
    6. Don’t even get me started on those dried noodle bowls/packages of soup, dreadful for salt and for fat
    7. Salt Cod, Salt Fish, Salted Herring, nuff said
    8. Finally, salty snacks, Potato Chips, Tortilla Chips, Crackers, Snack Mixes, Salted Nuts and Seeds are one of the biggest sources of salt in our diets

Once you learn where salt is most likely to hide just try to make sure that you are not having one of these “salties” at every meal.

For more information on Sodium visit the following Health Canada site:   http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/sodium-eng.php

7 Tips To Make Blood Sugar Checking Less Painful

In my last posting on diabetes I encouraged readers to test often in the early stages of diabetes so they can learn about what affects them. Seems simple enough but this is not without controversy. There are groups which believe all that testing is not necessary if your diabetes is relatively well controlled and your blood sugar numbers are coming in at the normal ranges. If you are indeed showing good values you probably do not need to be testing often; I am just curious as to how you are supposed to get to the good values if you have not spent any time learning how foods affect you.

I think a lot of the shying away from testing regularly is that some people find it painful and health care providers are reluctant to add another stress to someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes. With my clients I found the opposite, they were empowered by knowing what triggers were unique to their body and right from the start they began to see who was in charge.

So I will always be an advocate for more testing, at least until you know your diabetes-self . Below I have listed 7 tips on how to make the testing less painful:
1. Find out what works for you
Some people are shown one way to test the first time and think they always have to test that way and if it hurt that first time they are afraid to try again. You need to find what works for you. For many people the side of the finger, close to the fingernail works best. Some people find their thumb is best because it is more callused so try different areas until you find what works for you
2. Avoid pricking the fingertips
This part of the finger is especially sensitive because they tend to have more nerve endings so avoid using this area. You can also try to pinch or put pressure on where you’re going to test to seal it and that seems to minimize pain
3. Don’t use alcohol to sterilize your fingers
Alcohol dries out the skin and tends to cause more cracking and pain. It is better just to wash your hands with warm water to increase blood flow
4. Vary the fingers you use
Pick an easy-to-remember pattern to make sure you’re not using the same site over and over again. If your finger is sore, don’t use it for testing until it heals
5. Don’t reuse equipment
Try to use a new lancet each time you check. Lancets can get dull if they are used multiple times, resulting in a more painful prick
6. Try not to squeeze blood from the finger tip
If you are not getting enough blood after pricking try hanging your hand down below your waist to increase circulation or try squeezing gently near the base of your hand towards your fingertips. Don’t squeeze the fingertips
7. Find the right blood-glucose monitor (glucometer) for you
Some blood-glucose monitors produce a reading with much less blood than others; consider investing in a new model if you routinely have trouble obtaining enough blood. There are also some meters that allow you to take samples from other parts of your body like your arm. Look for one of these if things don’t improve with the fingertips

Hopefully less pain will lead to regular testing and much better control of your diabetes