Thursday, December 19, 2013

Have Your Steak and Eat It Too

All beef is not created equal; in fact organic free-roaming grass-fed beef has many heart-healthy benefits and has a place in a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Typical cattle is fed a diet of grains leading to rapid weight gain and fattier meat. Cows are fed antibiotics or growth enhancers, and living conditions are overcrowded and inhumane to say the least.

Organic free-roaming grass fed cattle does not receive antibiotics, growth enhancers, or other byproducts. The cows graze on grass in a pasture and produce much leaner meat, about 1/3 less fat than regular cows. The environmental impact is much more favorable and ethical issues such as living conditions and quality of life are a primary focus.
Less fatty beef means lower saturated fat content, the “bad fat” that can lead to heart disease. Grass fed beef has an added benefit of being high in omega-3 fatty acids, a heart healthy fat that is essential for your brain and may even reduce cancer risks. It is estimated grass-fed beef has 2-6 times more omega-3’s than regular beef.

The ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is believed to be close to 1:1 in grass-fed beef. Regular beef has over 10:1 ratio which is believed to add inflammation and stress to the body. Organic free-roaming grass-fed beef is also believed to be higher in antioxidants, especially vitamin E. It is estimated grass-fed beef is 2-4 times higher in vitamin E than regular beef.
When you go to the grocery store you will notice grass-fed beef is sometimes darker in color than regular beef, and has much less marbling, or visible fat. Taste wise grass-fed beef has a stronger taste and a more intricate flavor profile. Cost wise you will be spending considerable more money on organic free-roaming grass-fed beef.

Overall beef is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, beta-carotene, iron, zinc, and selenium. When consumed in moderation organic free-roaming grass-fed beef can be an excellent addition to your healthy diet with many health benefits.

Healthy Steak
2-4oz Organic free-roaming grass-fed beef
Salt and pepper

Spray a grill pan with a small amount of oil and heat over medium heat. Season the beef with a small amount of salt and pepper. If you are watching your salt intake just season with pepper. Cook until steak reached your desired doneness.

Steamed Asparagus
Place water in a pot and set a steam basket overtop. Heat pot over medium-high heat until water is boiling. Add asparagus and cover the pot with a lid. Steam until asparagus is tender, about 6-8 minutes.  

Healthy Mashed Potatoes
1 1/2lbs potatoes, cut into cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup nonfat milk
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pot combine potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Once fully cooked drain broth and add garlic and milk. Mash the potatoes, adding more milk if needed until potatoes are fluffy. Finish with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. For those watching their sodium simply omit the added  salt and switch to no sodium broth.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Healthy Habits for 2014

As the year comes to an end we look forward to a new start in 2014. Is living a healthier lifestyle, achieving weight loss, or working out more one of your New Year’s resolutions? Get motivated and start setting goals for yourself. Make a plan to not just live a healthier lifestyle, but commit to eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day. If weight loss is your resolution set realistic goals for yourself and track your progress on a weekly basis. If your plan is to work out more build yourself a schedule. Plan your workouts a month at a time and track your progression at the end of each session. No one is perfect and adopting new habits isn’t easy. Recruit the support of family and friends, remain dedicated to your goals, and believe that if you want to live a healthier life you can do it!

Healthy Habits:

·         Eat breakfast everyday
·         Don’t skip meals
·         Eat fish twice a week
·         Eat out less
·         Limit processed foods
·         Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
·         Make half your grains whole grain
·         Drink more water, most people need at least 8 cups daily
·         Drink less alcohol
·         Get 8 hours of sleep nightly
·         Stop frying food
·         Achieve a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days each week
·         Strength train at least 2 days each week
·         Take time to relax and appreciate everything you have in life
·         Spend more time with family and friends
·         Become more positive and avoid negative thoughts

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chocolate: Rich...Creamy...Healthy

Rich, creamy, and healthy....dark chocolate has many health benefits when consumed in moderation. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which are high in a nutrient called flavanols. Flavanols are a type of antioxidant (also found in wine and tea) which help protect the plant from toxins and help our bodies resist free radical damage.

Research shows flavanols have potential cardiovascular benefits which include lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow possibly reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The research is not concrete but some studies also show improved insulin sensitivity in diabetics and short term increase in blood flow to the brain improving alertness and performance. One study even found people who consumed flavanol rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored higher on cognitive tests than those who did not.

Cocoa beans undergo processing to turn into chocolate. The more processed the chocolate is, the less flavanols it contains. Milk also interferes with the antioxidants found in chocolate and can block the potential health benefits. Added fat and sugar also reduce the health benefits of chocolate changing it from a "superfood" into a junk food.

Look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa and keep your serving size to 1.4-2 ounces daily. Cocoa is very bitter and pungent in taste. Switching from a sugary milk chocolate bar to 70% dark chocolate may be a shock for your taste buds. Some find dark chocolate to be an acquired taste that takes some time to get used to. Start small and eat it with things you enjoy. My guilt free treat is drizzling some melted 72% cocoa over a handful of raspberries. However you choose to enjoy your dark chocolate, know the biggest reward is the impact on your health.