Mediterranean 5-grain Salad with Sunchokes, Beets & Mozzarella

Our friends at Green Kitchen Storie  created this salad in collaboration with Swedish/Italian family company Zeta. They are launching a new range of organic whole grain mixes . Since grains can be a little colourless, they asked Green Kitchen Stories for a delicious recipe that looked stunning (no pressure, right). Luise and Elsa share a deep love for Italy and Italian flavours and they truly indulged in that while creating this salad.

The grains add a nourishing base for this salad and they are tossed in pesto for extra flavor. They add sunchokes that are roasted until buttery soft  and mix with thinly sliced raw, crunchy chioggia beets (aka candy cane or polka beets) and radishes. Of course they threw in some mozzarella and pine nuts (influenced by Italy!), and added red grapes for sweetness. All in all, it’s a real beauty of a salad, it is very nourishing and tastes just as good as it looks.

The idea of mixing chioggia beets with radishes for a colourful kick is shamelessly inspired by some of the salads in Erin Irelands instagram feed (worth checking out btw!).

Mediterranean 5-grain Salad with Sunchokes, Beets & Mozzarella
Serves 4–6

1 bag (250 g / 1 1/2 cup) Zeta organic 5-grain mix (Farro, Barley, Kamut, Brown Rice and Oat Groats), or grains of choice
500 g / 1 lb sunchoke/jerusalem artichoke
2 chunks mozzarella di bufalo
4 polka beets (chioggia) or yellow beets, peeled
1 bunch radishes, rinsed
200 g / 7 oz red grapes, halved
1 handful pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 handfuls rucola/arugula
1 bunch fresh basil

Pesto dressing
5 tbsp green pesto
2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Rinse and brush the sunchokes (don’t bother peeling them) and cut them in 5-10 mm (1/4-inch) slices. Place the slices in a bowl, drizzle over olive oil and toss them until everything is covered in oil. Spread out the slices on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until soft with crispy edges.

Meanwhile, cook the grains in a large sauce pan filled with salted water, following the cooking time on the package. Drain any excess water and scoop the grains back into the sauce pan.

Stir together the pesto dressing and pour over the grains in the sauce pan. Make sure they are all covered and then pour the grains out onto a wide plate or salad bowl.

Layer with sunchoke slices and torn mozzarella chunks. Use a mandolin (or sharp knife) to shave the polka beets and radishes very thinly and spread on top of the salad together with pine nuts, grapes, rucola/arugula and basil.

Big Fat Lies Fifteen Years Later

Nutrition News Big Fat Lies Cover Fifteen Years Ago
Nearly fifteen years ago to the date, we published an interview with Ann Louise Gittleman. Back then Ann Louise was the one calling a flag on the play about cutting fat from our diets. There was a frenzy about high cholesterol rates and fat became the focus. Almost overnight, processed foods manufacturers took out coconut and palm oil, butter, all the saturated fats. They substituted less nutritionally dense oils (safflower) and increased the amount of sugar to make the new formulations palatable. We all know where that got us. This month we’re revisiting the Big Fat Lies  conversation with another interview with Ann Louise. Watch for details.

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Fabulous Foodie Friday – April 11.2014

Chew On This
Easy homemade granola bars
 
Cherry-Almond Granola Bars
Erin McDowell
Granola bars–fast, convenient, purse-sized. Just do yourself a favor and don’t read the nutrition info. Lucky for us gals on the go, a healthy version is achingly easy to make at home. Toast up some oats, add a drizzle of honey, a spoonful of almond butter and a handful of your favorite mix-ins, and you’ve got your own granola bars in less than 30 minutes. And they’re good for you too, but that won’t stop us from drizzling a little chocolate on top next time…
Cherry-Almond Granola Bars
A PureWow Original Recipe
Makes 12 bars
Start to Finish: 25 minutes
Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter3 cups quick oats1½ cups almonds, coarsely chopped1 cup dried cherries

3 tablespoons brown sugar

⅓ cup honey

1½ cups almond butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both sides.2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oats and toast until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.3. In a large bowl, combine the oats with the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. (This can be done by hand, but it’s especially quick in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.)4. Press the oat mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Pop the pan into the refrigerator or freezer to let the mixture set for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into 12 evenly sized bars and serve. The bars will keep in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic for up to five days.

Three “Hands On” Nutrition Classes – Enough to Impact Health Behaviors in Lower Income Women

According to New Study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

The knowledge and skills required to change poor nutrition and health behavior choices are often unavailable to those living with financial limitations. Competing demands on time and resources may pose obstacles to their achieving better diets.

Woman choosing produceHowever, two researchers at the University of Minnesota recently completed a study that looked at the effects that three educational sessions might have on knowledge and behaviors of 118 low-income women of ethnically diverse backgrounds.

“Our research shows that with the right teaching experiences, having more classes may not be needed to reach our lower income population,” says Chery Smith, PhD, MPH, RD, Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota. “This is really important for a group that is hard to reach, has transportation difficulties, and is extremely mobile due to work and housing changes.”

Dr. Smith and former student Claire Rustad developed and taught three classes to lower income women of predominantly American Indian, African American, and white ethnicities. They used a holistic approach and experiential learning, as well as providing clear sets of instructions. The first class covered the “nuts and bolts” of nutrition, including shopping, budgeting, and basics of macro- and micro-nutrients. In the second class, cooking techniques were emphasized, and in the third, participants learned about resources to increase food security, which included gardening.

After participating in the three classes, the women had increased vegetable intake, decreased fast food intake, and read labels more often. Data indicated that there were nine behaviors that improved after the session, as well as measures of knowledge.  Increased knowledge and behavioral changes in a low-income population of women may help narrow inequalities in health, based on socioeconomic status.

“Ultimately, this study points to the efficacy of experiential learning in promoting knowledge acquisition and behavioral changes after education on a spectrum of nutrition topics in a short time frame, because it promotes immediate processing of information via stimulation of the senses,” comments Dr. Smith.

Although the investigators demonstrated positive effects, Dr. Smith acknowledges that they do not know if the results will be sustained.  However, she believes that using a comprehensive but short intervention is worthy of expanded research interest.

The Metabolic Power Of Pleasure

By Marc David, founder of the Institute of Eating Psychology

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

– See more at: http://psychologyofeating.com/metabolic-power-pleasure/?goback=%2Egde_1857116_member_247885866#sthash.Sm37GEbb.dpuf

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

– See more at: http://psychologyofeating.com/metabolic-power-pleasure/?goback=%2Egde_1857116_member_247885866#sthash.Sm37GEbb.dpuf

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

– See more at: http://psychologyofeating.com/metabolic-power-pleasure/?goback=%2Egde_1857116_member_247885866#sthash.Sm37GEbb.dpuf

Vitamin P – Pleasure – is a vital element that makes our meals nutritionally complete and makes life worth living. Like all organisms on the planet, we humans are genetically programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. A cat chasing a mouse is seeking pleasure, while the unfortunate rodent is doing its best to avoid pain. Indeed, any behavior we can imagine can be seen as either of these, or a swirl of both. This is particularly apparent in light of our eating. When we eat, we’re seeking the pleasure of food and avoiding the pain of hunger. Indeed, destiny has fashioned for us a body that’s wired for joy.

chocolate dipped strawberryThe simple scientific equation for the profound biochemical effects of pleasure is this:
When you’re turned on by food, you turn on metabolism.

In a study at the University of Texas, participants with very high cholesterol levels were placed on a low-fat diet, however, they were allowed to splurge every other day on a milkshake and a ham and cheese sandwich. According to conventional wisdom, they should have experienced a significant rise in blood cholesterol, but there was none. The only elevation they showed was that of enjoyment. Despite the high-fat content of the splurge foods, their cholesterol-raising effect was somehow mitigated by the chemistry of pleasure. It isn’t hard to imagine that the splurges were the only relaxed and celebrated moments in an otherwise bland and stressful diet. And that decrease in fight-or-flight chemistry could have been, by itself, enough to lower cholesterol…

In another unusual study, researchers from Sweden and Thailand joined forces to determine how cultural preferences for food affects the absorption of iron from a meal. A group of women from each country was fed a typical Thai meal – rice, veggies, coconut, fish sauce and hot chili paste. As fate would have it, Thai women enjoy Thai food but Swedish women don’t. This proved to be a crucial metabolic fact, because, even though all the meals contained the exact same amount of iron, the Swedish women absorbed only half as much as the Thai women. To complete this phase of the study, both groups received a typical Swedish meal – hamburger, mashed potatoes, and string beans with the exact same iron content. Not surprisingly, the Thai Women absorbed significantly less iron from their Swedish meal.

Next, the Thai women were separated into two groups. One group received the aforementioned Thai meal and the other was given the same exact meal as well, but that meal was first placed in a blender and turned to mush. Just imagine your favorite evening meal all whipped together into baby food. Once again, the same results were seen for their Swedish counterparts who had their Swedish meal turned into a frappé.

The inescapable conclusion is that the nutritional value of a food is not merely given in the nutrients it contains, but is dependent upon the synergistic factors that helps us absorb those nutrients. Remove Vitamin P: Pleasure, and the nutritional value of our food plummets.

Add Vitamin P and your meal is metabolically optimized. So if you’re the kind of person who eats foods that are “good for you,” even though you don’t like them, or if you think you can have a lousy diet and make up for it by eating a strange-tasting vitamin-fortified protein bar, or if you’ve simply banished pleasure because you don’t have enough time to cook or find a sumptuous meal – then you likely aren’t doing yourself any nutritional favors. You’re slamming shut the door on a key metabolic pathway.

In a fascinating animal study, scientists surgically destroyed the nerve centers of rats’ brains that enable the rats to taste. One group of rats was thus left with no ability to taste their food; a second group of normal, healthier, and luckier creatures that could still enjoy their meals was used as a control. Both groups were fed the exact same food, ate the same amounts, and were treated by researchers with the same manner of respect. In due time, every rat that couldn’t taste died. The surprised scientists needed to find a cause of death, so they autopsied the animals. They found that even though these rats ate the same healthy amount of food, they nevertheless died of clinical rat malnutrition. Their organs had wasted as if they’d been starved. The moral of the story is that taste and pleasure are essential to life, more so perhaps than we could have ever imagined.
Chemical Clues to Pleasure

burger with the worksConsider the chemical cholecystokinin, CCK. This substance is produced by the body in response to protein or fat in a meal and performs a number of versatile functions. First, it directly aids digestion by stimulating the small intestines, pancreas, gallbladder, and stomach. Second, when it’s released in the hypothalamus, part of the limbic area of the brain, it shuts down appetite. And last, CCK stimulates the sensation of pleasure in the cerebral cortex, the highest portion of the brain.

So, in putting all this together, we find that the same chemical that functions to metabolize our meal also tells us when it’s time to finish that meal, and makes us feel good about the entire experience. It shows us how pleasure, metabolism, and a naturally controlled appetite are interwoven to the core. Most people think that pleasure is completely separate from the nutritional process and serves no metabolic function. We often believe that if a food makes us feel good, the body is automatically stimulated to eat more and might never want to stop. The actions produced by CCK in the brain tell us a whole new story.

In the absence of pleasurable satiation, one of the chemicals that increases our appetite is neuropeptide Y. It tells us to search for food. It is naturally elevated in the morning, which makes sense because that’s when the body is readying itself for action. Neuropeptide Y is also elevated whenever we are deprived of food. Its presence is particularly enhanced after dieting. Whenever we sink into a low blood sugar state  – which usually means we are also in a low mood – neuropeptide Y is increased and signals us to consume carbohydrates.

So if you deny yourself the pleasure of food through low-calorie eating or if you restrict yourself to a fun-free diet, the body responds by chemically demanding pleasure and satisfaction. The lesson that neuropeptide Y teaches us is that we cannot escape the biological imperative to party and enjoy. No matter how stingy we are with eating, the body will not be denied.

The class of chemicals most people associate with pleasure are the endorphins. These substances are naturally produced throughout the body – most notably in the brain and the digestive system – and they exist, in part, to make us happy. The simple act of eating raises our levels of endorphins. This tells us that eating is an inherently pleasurable experience because biochemistry makes it so. What’s most unusual about the endorphins is that not only are they molecules of pleasure, but they also stimulate fat mobilization. In other words, the same chemical that makes you feel good burns body fat. Furthermore, the greater the endorphin release in your digestive tract, the more blood and oxygen will be delivered there. This means increased digestion, assimilation, and ultimately greater efficiency in calorie burning.

Of course, I’m not telling you that you can eat a ton of dessert or junk food and that you’ll burn it all as long as you feel pleasured. The point is that the chemistry of pleasure is intrinsically designed to fuel metabolism. When we make intelligent use of this biologic fact, our health can prosper. But if we don’t receive the pleasure that body and soul call for each day and at every meal, we suffer. In the ancient and epic poem from India, the Mahabharata, we are told “better to alight in flames, if only for a moment, than to smolder forever in unfulfilled desire.”

In N Out Burger Drive Thur LineMany of us claim to love food, but when we eat too fast or without awareness or with a helping of guilt, the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system both register only a minimum of pleasurable sensations. The result is that we are physiologically driven to eat more. We’re compelled to hunt down pleasure we never fully receive, even though it’s continually in our grasp.

So if you’re the kind of person who believes you can control your appetite and therefor lose weight by denying yourself pleasure, I suggest you reevaluate immediately. I have yet to meet one person who has successfully lost weight and kept it off by overcoming their natural, inborn drive to enjoy and celebrate food.
Losing weight by limiting pleasure is like trying to stop smoking by not breathing.

We can never increase the body’s metabolic capacity by limiting what is essential to life.

The key to pleasure’s powerful effect in balancing your appetite is that it promotes a physiologic relaxation response. The times we overeat most are when we’re anxious, stressed, or unaware. A relaxed, pleasured eater has natural control. A stressed eater produces more circulating cortisol – our main stress hormone. What’s amazing is that cortisol desensitizes us to pleasure. When you’re in fight or flight response and trying to escape the hungry wolf, you don’t want your brain to be in a “feel good” mode and get sidetracked looking for chocolate. All of you needs to be focused on survival.

So when cortisol desensitizes us to pleasure in our day-to-day stresses, we need to eat more food to feel the same amount of pleasure as when we’re relaxed. This means that if you’re afraid of pleasure or anxious about gaining weight or frightened to eat a dessert, you’ll generate more cortisol. This chemical will swim through your bloodstream, numb you to pleasure, and ironically create the very self-fulfilling prophecy you feared from the beginning: “if I eat something fun, I won’t be able to stop…”

Can you see how our nutritional fears help create our metabolic reality?

Pleasure loves slow. It thrives in a warm, intimate, cozy space. It reveals its deepest secrets when we drop all pretensions of speed and allow timelessness and sensuality to breathe us back into each moment. It’s time to welcome a healthy sense of pleasure back to the table.

What’s been your experience with Vitamin P?
– See more at: http://psychologyofeating.com/metabolic-power-pleasure

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