Food: the forgotton few

Two things I picked up recently at the supermarket: Sunchokes & Watercress.I haven’t had watercress in ages mostly because I rarely find it other than farmers markets.  I almost forgot the nice peppery taste and how great it goes in salads either as the main leafy green or added to a mix of others.

Watercress Salad

One time in Jamaica I swam across an area of the wild cruciferous plant so I snapped off a bunch of the leaves and took it back and made watercress sandwiches (with thinly sliced onion on the advice of someone who swore how delicious & nutritious it was). It used to be a staple of the working class diet in England. It comes with good recommendation. The ancient green is said to have also been a staple in the diet of Roman soldiers with a long history of benefits like immunity boosting properties, a cancer preventative and support for thyroid. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used watercress to treat his patients. What was good enough for the Romans & Hippocrates is good enough for me.

Sunchokes

Sunchokes are a different matter.

They are a vegetable formerly known as “Jerusalem Artichokes” and are neither from Jerusalem nor are they related to artichokes.  They are originally cultivated by Native Americans. I guess that’s all the history I’m getting or giving for now.  They look like large pieces of ginger but taste a bit nutty and sweet at the same time. It’s pretty weird sounding.

I am neither used to seeing them or cooking with them but since I’m always up for trying something new, I bought a package. I asked a supermarket employee in the vegetable department what to do with them.  He said “cook em up like you would a potatoe.  Peel, leave skin on, mash, bake or boil – they’re delish!” I decided to slice them fairly thin with skin on, drizzle olive oil over top, a little sea salt & fresh dill and bake them in the oven.  They baked in very little time and were quite yummy with more of a root vegetable taste.

Orange roughy with asian marinade, steamed broccoli & baked sunchokes.   Image: d. king

I will make them again and try different ways of serving them.

Have you tried them?

 

Health MATTERS: a few noteworthy facts

Here are six interesting research-backed food facts – some that might seem a bit shocking.  Something to talk about at your next cocktail party – it’s amazing to find out how much food and nutrition info. we don’t know.

fact6

Source: Purdue, Tafts

Source: Purdue, Tafts

Source: NY Times,  Journal of Pain.

Source: NY Times, Journal of Pain.

Source: Cinnabon, Coca-Cola

Source: Cinnabon, Coca-Cola

Source: Starbucks

Source: Starbucks

So watch out for this

So watch out for this.  I used to drink vodka & soda.

Some thoughts…

If I had to choose I would much rather put extra calories into a big gooey cinnamon bun than a soft drink.

Know your ingredients. Unless you look up the ingredients how in the world would you know that Starbucks was colouring their frappuccinos with ground up bugs? I used to drink those too.

Invest in a black light.

Your thoughts?

 

Health MATTERS: Exercise vs. Diet – which one matters most?

diet1If you had to choose between Diet or Exercise when it comes to slimming down which would it be?

Does one matter more than the other? I know, it’s not really a fair question but some people want to lose weight but really don’t want to 1) Exercise or 2) Diet.

 Of course you can always do one without the other but any thinking person knows that doing both will be more effective.  I was reading an article about this with two experts weighing out the differences.diet2

 HIT THE GYM:

Expert: Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.

“Yes, you can lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is an important component.  Without it, only a portion of your weight loss is from fat – you’re also stripping away muscle and bone density.  Since working out stimulates growth of those metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you’re burning mostly fat.  The number on the scale might not sound so impressive, but because muscle takes up less space than fat does, you look smaller and your clothes fit better.  Data shows that to lose weight with exercise and keep it off, you don’t need to run  marathons.  You just need to build up to five workouts a week, 50 minutes each, at a moderate intensity, like brisk walking or zumba.  Resistance training helps too.  Don’t just do isolated weight-lifting exercises like bicep curls – you’ll get leaner faster by using your body weight against gravity, as with movements like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks.  And, of course, beyond burning fat, people shouldn’t forget that exercise can have other impressive health perks, like improving the quality of your sleep, lowering your cholesterol, and reducing your stress level.”

 EAT SMART

Expert: Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic.

“As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.  An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart.  On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks.  It’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off.  For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to ‘undo’ it!”

“So, what should you eat?  It’s true that low-carb diets tend to be the most popular because they offer the fastest results, but they can be difficult to sustain.  I recommend striving for a  more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and whole grain carbs.  And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass).  For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight – so a 150-pound woman should shoot for a 1,500 calorie target.  That way, you should be able to lose weight no matter how much you exercise.”diet3

 THE LAST WORD: While diet and exercise are both important for long-term weight loss, remember this: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet,” says Talbott.

Source: as told to Sarah Z. Wexler for “O” Magazine