Category: Carbs

Now You Can Drink Your Grains

What we really need more of is drinkable grains.

As if most beverages weren’t already liquid grains, the food producers of America are uniting once again to help you in your quest for diabetes (or at least a respectable gut). Since everyone knows that grains are super healthy, you can expect the trend of grain-based drinks to continue.

That’s according to a report from Food Processing, which notes that in recent years we’ve seen the rise of alternatives to dairy (not a bad thing – sorry, Big Moo). Almond milk, soy milk and rice milk have become popular, but even hemp milk is an option these days.

Of course, the marketing trend of drinkable grains is not entirely accurate, as most of these non-dairy beverages are actually made from nuts and beans. So, if you’re really concerned about drinking your grains, you’ll be relieved to know that things like soda, beer, and energy drinks are already made from grains! That’s right. Drinkable grains are not really news, as it turns out, because we’ve already had them for a long time!

The bottom line: you can enjoy all the beverages you love and still get plenty of grains in your diet.

How, you ask? Well, silly, because corn is a grain! Many people think corn is a vegetable. It is not. Corn is a delightful grain completely lacking in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and protein. It’s pretty superficial, and I dig that. Even better, the type of sweetener manufacturers make from this most excellent kernel corrodes your arteries and raises your blood sugar. What’s uber rad is that this sweetener – high fructose corn syrup – is in pretty much everything, so you don’t even have to look for it. No, seriously, everything: sauces, syrups, spreads, drinks, snacks, candies, fruit snacks, juices, sodas, frozen foods, and desserts. Everything!

I found this chocolate fudge cola at my local grocery store. Score! I am totally gonna be drinking my grains now!

To get your daily recommended intake of grains – you need at least 6, remember – you can do the following:

– Drink 3 Coca-Colas

– Eat 1 donut and 2 cupcakes, or 1 cupcake and 2 donuts, or 1.5 donuts and 1.5 cupcakes

– You could also eat 3 brownies if you were born in the 70s

Do not forget: flavored sauces containing corn syrup count as a grain! It all counts. Give that chicken breast something to feel good about!

You can eat 3 of any sweet, refined treat, and you’ll be getting half your daily intake of grains! Don’t worry, this is all in step with the U.S. government’s dietary recommendations, which are to eat 6-11 grain servings daily, only half of which need to be whole grains (“Make half your grains whole”).

I am a bit of a princess, as you all know, so I will be eating eclairs. I want the expensive diabetes. With enough work, maybe I can even look like Labelman.

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The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar & Type 2 Diabetes (and you’ll understand it)

BITE ME, ADA

We all know by now that type 2 diabetes is an epidemic. We’re seeing words like crisis and runaway all over the news and in the journals. Heart disease rates have been cut in half since the staggering margarine days of the 1980s, but diabetes has swiftly risen to fill that gaping void and meet the challenge of Completely Unnecessary Disease Epidemic.

Here’s my ultra-simple explanation of the entire insulin/blood sugar/type 2 diabetes mess. Big Agra could really care less about you. That’s just business. The pharmaceutical industry is not in it for the love of life. If that were the case, drugs would be much cheaper. The FDA has to think about public health, but it also has to think about treading carefully on the toes of corporate interests, because that’s how it works when you’re the biggest economy in the world.

Print this explanation out, stick it on your fridge, email it to your aunt. And put down the pasta.

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It’s the Calories, not the Carbs!

Although I think the current food pyramid ought to emphasize vegetables over other sources of carbohydrates, you still need some carbohydrates in your daily diet. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I happen to believe a nutrient-loaded bowl of fresh broccoli is a more intelligent – not to mention tastier – dietary choice than a slice of bread and infinitely better than a Pop Tart. I don’t think many would quibble with my Pop Tart derision, but plenty of people take understandable issue with my unfavorable opinion of grains. We’ve been told grains are healthy – to say otherwise must be crazy-talk! Grains do have a little fiber – sometimes – and offer some vitamins and protein. But, so do vegetables – for far fewer calories. Even whole grain food products tend to come with preservatives, added fats, and corn syrup – not always, of course, but I’m thinking in terms of the typical American diet. Someone is buying all those hamburgers and french fries. Not you? Okay, good. One of many reasons for favoring vegetables over grains is the calorie factor – grains just have more calories than vegetables. A lot of people hope to lose weight without cutting calories, so they eliminate an entire macro-nutrient category. Axing a whole category is easy at first, and gives one a sense of accomplishment. It feels good. We did it in the 90s with fat. As it turns out, many forms of fat are vital and nutritious, so that wasn’t a smart idea. Now we condemn carbohydrates, which is fine, but I see people chowing on bacon and avoiding “too many” vegetables! How long before we start rethinking carbohydrates? This is why I stress the need for portion control. Eat a little fat, eat a little protein, eat a little (smart) carbohydrate – eat a little. You can lose weight on a high-protein diet, but few stick with it for more than a few months. I agree with the philosophy of the higher-protein, higher-fat diets in that it’s essential to cut out the refined carbohydrates for optimal health. If we eliminated refined foods, particularly refined sweeteners in the form of snacks and sodas, I think it’s probable that we would see a welcome drop in heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Refined and even whole-grain carbohydrates are not the most nutritious source of calories. What’s more important to you: being healthy or being thin? I would hope both! If you want both, you’re going to have to come up with a sensible long term solution beyond completely eliminating a macro-nutrient, because that’s not reasonable or healthy. Eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet, but remember that weight management is still about calories, calories, calories. None of us needs to be feasting on massive steaks or wolfishly consuming the excessive portions restaurants dish out. Shaq is an exception. To that end, I recommend limiting portions and getting the most out of every single calorie. Why eat a bag of peach-flavored chips when you … Continue reading “It’s the Calories, not the Carbs!”

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Ten Awesome Carbs

Here are ten delicious, natural, smart carbohydrates we enjoy at the Sisson household. For comparison, I’ve included unhealthy but popular items that I think these smarter choices can replace. The flavor and texture components aren’t a perfect match by any stretch, but I think there’s enough similarity that you’ll find it painless to switch to the healthier selections.

10. Baked, buttered, and salted acorn squash instead of french fries

9. Butternut squash instead of spaghetti

This is Mindgraph’s Flickr Photo CC

8. Sweet potatoes instead of potatoes (amazingly, a much lower impact on blood sugar)

7. Grilled eggplant instead of breaded chicken

This is Moria’s Flickr Photo CC

6. Portabello mushrooms with soy sauce instead of hamburgers

5. Raw heart of palm instead of fried mozzarella sticks

This is Lana Stewart’s Flickr Photo CC

4. Tempeh with chili sauce instead of white rice with jug “teriyaki sauce”

3. Green peas with shredded parmesan and olive oil instead of macaroni ‘n cheese

This is Himachal’s Flickr Photo

2. Artichoke hearts baked with a bit of cheddar instead of fried chicken nuggets

1. Caprese salad instead of pizza

This is Avlxyz’s Flickr Photo CC

Further Reading:

My Carb Pyramid

More Top Ten Health Posts

Carbs Are Not the Devil

What are your favorite healthy alternatives to refined carbohydrates?

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[tags] low-carb, healthy carbs, healthy recipes [/tags]

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Grubs, Part 2

Last week I outlined my basic philosophy of nutrition, informed by my evolutionary biology knowledge. Or, as I call it, Primal Health. The lifestyle is simple: peer into the past at how our robust ancestors lived and take some notes from the DNA handbook (well, I’ll do that part).

Before the advent of agriculture, before the industrial revolution, and certainly before the modern era of fast food, long commutes, and sedentary office jobs, humans had evolved into the amazing creatures that they still are. To say we’re amazing isn’t anthropocentric – all creatures are amazing in the sense that they are finely tuned to survive in their niche. We are no different. For the delicacy of our skin, eyes, and bones, the susceptibility to environmental and emotional stress, and the infectious side effects of communal living, we are remarkably resilient. But it’s really our intelligence that has gotten us this far. Are we powerful? Well, not really, compared to apes. Sturdy? Again, nope. Our young take longer than just about any other mammal to mature (and also come with tuition bills). But brains? We have massive, enormously complex brains.

My Primal Health philosophy is really a marriage of ancient and high-tech. I believe we should harness the power of our knowledge, tools and intelligence to maximize human health and longevity. And the place to start is in our ancestral blueprints – our DNA – which haven’t changed in 10,000 or more years.

Great, Sisson. What does this mean for dinner?

Early humans were omnivorous (though in fact, there’s a bit of scavenger in the old DNA as well). I don’t consider my diet the Caveman Diet, as that’s a bit of a misnomer anyway. Rather, my “diet” is simply the very natural lifestyle I adhere to based upon what our genetic composition (that DNA blueprint) tells us about our highly successful evolution and adaptation. I attribute many, if not most, of our health problems – including mental health conditions – to a diet and lifestyle that’s severely out of sync with human physiology. I’ll be discussing the implications of this for exercise and stress in further articles, but today, let’s talk about the tastier aspects of primal health: what’s for dinner?

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How to Eat More Chocolate and Drink More Wine Every Day

How can you turn this down? Health, in my view, is really about enjoyment and quality of life. It’s not all celery sticks and cardio – far from it. Dark chocolate and red wine shouldn’t be consumed with the reckless abandon I sincerely hope you reserve for vegetables, but they are reasonably healthy indulgences. Here’s how to indulge a little more (am I looking out for you or what?). 10. Drunk Marinara My editor, Sara, shares this tip: wash and chop up 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes. (Don’t bother with that canned stuff if you want the healthiest possible sauce. This is easy.) Add in half your normal amount of water or broth (you’ll see why in a second). Next add several fresh garlic cloves and any other spices or herbs you fancy in your tomato sauce. The antioxidant boost: after the tomatoes have simmered and stewed for a while, pour in 1 cup of red wine. Between the cooked tomatoes, garlic and wine, you’ll have a sauce so good, you’ll want to drink it and forget about whatever you were going to pour it on (better not be pasta). 9. Chocolate, Meet Meat Buy the darkest, most bitter, pure chocolate you can find. Even mass chocolate manufacturers like Hershey’s are pushing darker and darker chocolates. You can find upwards of 70% these days without breaking a sweat. Melt a bar in a saucepan with a big dash of cayenne pepper, a generous pinch of oregano or marjoram, a touch of olive oil, and a decent sprinkle of sea salt. You now have a very interesting and incredible reduction to drizzle over your pork chops. Just trust me. 8. Drink Wine at Lunch A necessary word of caution: I am not recommending a future career as a lush here. But you might enjoy splitting up that nightly glass of red into two small glasses (emphasis on small) and having a splash of wine at lunch. Many cultures around the world enjoy a little swill at noon. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone depending on schedules and workplace expectations. And, if alcohol is something that you tend to indulge too much in, then skip this tip (matter of fact, skip this post). 7. Goodbye Coffee, Hello Chocolate Chocolate for breakfast? Sure. This tip is for the morning vice crowd. If you want whiter teeth and you never seem to eat anything for breakfast, tackle both issues by eating a piece of dark chocolate instead of coffee. You’ll get some fat and caffeine to nourish your brain, quell your starving stomach and stimulate your nerves. I think some sliced tomatoes or scrambled eggs are both obviously better ideas for your mornings, but if you’re a coffee junkie and you have trouble ingesting a morning dose of calories, hey, I say work with the problem instead of fighting it. Dark chocolate still has some sugar, so if you’re trying to lose weight or if you need to watch your blood sugar, stick to … Continue reading “How to Eat More Chocolate and Drink More Wine Every Day”

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