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My favorite seed: Quinoa


It’s NOT a grain.

Not related to wheat at all, this nutrition superstar is related to Swiss chard and spinach. Does it really matter to argue about it? No – because typically it can substitute for any grain in a recipe.

This “new” (have you been living under a cheeseburger?) food comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. It is thought to have served as a source of sustained energy for the Incas, and one of the few staple crops that was grown at these altitudes.

It’s pronounced keen-wah

Nutritional highlights

  • Complete protein – meaning that it contains the nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are those nitrogen containing building blocks that form proteins. Over 20 exist, however there are 9 that must be obtained from the diet (your body cannot make them, hence they are “essential”).

    So what is so exciting about this complete protein thing? Typically you need to seek various food groups throughout the day* in order to obtain all nine essential amino acids so your body can form complete proteins. However quinoa delivers all nine within a single bite! Not only is quinoa a complete protein, quinoa is relatively high in protein. One cup cooked provides approximately 8g of protein!

    *Side note - the notion that you must select complementary foods (beans and grains for example) within a single meal is inaccurate; rather you need to seek various complementary foods within a single day.
  • Hypoallergenic – It doesn’t contain gluten, so it serves as a wonderful alternative for people sensitive to gluten or are gluten-intolerant. For a girl like me with a gluten-intolerant gut, this is great news!
  • Headache and cardiovascular benefits:

Energizing Quinoa Breakfast

A healthy start to your day, full of fiber to keep you powered for hours without weighing you down!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or strawberry)
  • 1 tablespoon hempseeds

Directions:

Patient Appreciation Day Today at Swedish/Issaquah

Today's the day! Or at least one of the many days that fun things are happening at Swedish.

Today is one of our Patient Appreciation days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Swedish/Issaquah.

If you live or work on the Eastside, we hope you'll have a chance to stop by. Our friends at Coho Café will be providing free samples of a heart-healthy dish and two Swedish dieticians will be on-hand to provide heart-healthy eating advice. (But even if you can't come in person, you'll find over 100 tasty heart healthy recipes that are dietitian approved here. If you try one out, come back & share in the comments if you liked it!)

We’re also offering 200 free blood pressure screenings on a first-come-first-serve basis. Free stress-relieving massages will also be given throughout the event.

Speaking of stress, if you're stressed that you can't stop by, you can still participate in the fun online. Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.(Pacific Time), find and tweet the answer of this question to @Swedish:

“What is the American Heart Association recommendation for healthy blood pressure?”

Remember, you need to include "@Swedish" in your tweet so we can see your response! We'll provide the answer at noon, and one person who answers correctly will be randomly selected and awarded a Gene Juarez gift certificate for a 60-minute, stress-relieving massage. (You'll need to be local and willing to pick up the gift card in person - make sure you're following @Swedish on Twitter so we can DM you if you win!).

Focus on the Positive

This February for Heart Health Month, let's focus on the positive.

Too often when discussing eating for heart health we focus on the things we should be decreasing (sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar) rather than focusing on the many positive things we could be adding to our diets.

So what can you add to your food intake for heart health?

We know from national surveys that the majority of Americans are not consuming recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, diary, seafood, and heart healthy oils. This translates to a lack of important nutrients, such as Vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and fiber.

Think of one healthful item from each category above that you could add into your diet over the month of February. Here is a list of one of my favorite foods from each category to give you some ideas.

Healthy Highlights of Chocolate

Flip the calendar to February and just like Pavlov’s dogs, you may immediately salivate for dark chocolate, bright red roses and heart shaped everything. You may think that Valentine’s day is a romantic holiday fueled by Victoria’s Secret, florists and chocolatiers, but there is a reason for everyone to celebrate this Heart Healthy Month. For the 40 plus percent of people flying solo this season (the ones that rolled eyes at the heart encircling the 14th on the office calendar), there are reasons why you too should read on and learn of the health highlights of this ‘guilty pleasure’.

First - learning the language of chocolate and discovering the nutrients hidden in this gift from earth can empower you to look beyond the diet taboo and instead intentionally enjoy the benefits chocolate has to offer (perhaps innocently on more than one occasion per year).

Within the fruit pods of the Theobroma cacao tree lie cacao beans, the preliminary form of chocolate harboring the health benefits which transform the reputation of this guilty pleasure into an innocent delight. Cacao refers to the tropical tree (see image below) and bean, and is not to be confused with the term cocoa.

There are approximately 20-60 cacao beans per pod, which are removed from their pods, undergo fermentation and then are dried, roasted, and crushed. The resulting nibs are separated from their shells. You can purchase cacao nibs at natural foods stores (Whole Foods, PCC, Madison Market). These nibs are then ground to extract cocoa butter while producing a brown paste known as chocolate liquor during the extraction process.

When further extraction is performed, the cocoa mass that results can be ground to produce unsweetened cocoa powder. Unsweetened chocolate, the most commonly recognized form of chocolate by consumers, is made by mixing heated chocolate liquor with cocoa butter and sometimes lecithin. Bittersweet, semisweet, or simply sweet chocolate has sugar, vanilla and lecithin added.

Now that you are more fluent in the language of chocolate, you can advance to learn of the nutrients and other components in chocolate contributing to its health benefits.

Simple, heart-healthy Super Bowl recipe and advice from a cardiologist

It's heart month, and with the Super Bowl this weekend (and suggestions from the media that sporting events may trigger heart attacks), I decided to whip up my low-fat, smokey, heart-healthy three-cheese fondue, as well as ask cardiologist Mark Reisman, MD, for some tips.

Low-fat, smokey, three-cheese fondue (serves 6)

Ingredients

Childhood obesity

Eating healthy and being physically active are important things to keep in mind during and especially after the holidays when an abundance of food is present.

Parents often have questions about their child’s weight such as: Is my child’s weight appropriate? Is there a difference between being overweight and being obese? When should we be worried about his or her weight? If I am overweight, what is the risk that my child may become overweight?

Physicians often use the term BMI (body mass index) to define the terms overweight and obese, and this provides physicians and parents with a guide to monitor weight in children. BMI can be calculated using the weight and height (weight in kilo divided by square of height in meters; this can also be calculated using the BMI calculator. A child is considered overweight if the BMI is greater than the 85th percentile and obese if greater than 95th percentile. Once a child is obese, they are at risk of developing complications like hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, etc.

Physical activity should be a significant part of everyday life of your child. Each child should aim to be active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. They can be enrolled in an organized sports activity program like football, soccer, baseball, or swimming, or they can remain active by riding a bike, jogging and so on. Parents need to be aware if their child is playing video games for hours at a time and restrict the amount of screen time if necessary. Reduced television watching and computer use may reduce BMI and sedentary behavior.

Eating healthy plays an essential role in the well-being of every child. Studies have shown a lower prevalence of obesity in children who eat a healthy breakfast every day. Parents need to provide children with healthy food options at home so that they can develop a habit of eating healthy. It is important for children to try to eat all food groups, including grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meat or fish. Fats, oils and sweets must be consumed in limited amounts. Lifestyle modification involving the whole family is a key factor in maintaining healthy weight in children.

What if my child is obese or overweight?

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