Monday, July 26, 2010

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Are you interested in sugar and fructose metabolism and what it does to your body on a cellular level?  Check out this amazing video lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at UCSF.

Dr. Lustig presents an educational and entertaining lecture, citing epidemiological statistics before moving into a brief biochemical lecture.  In the lecture, Dr. Lustig goes over metabolism of white bread (glucose), ethanol, and fructose.  This comparison of chronic ethanol and fructose exposure symptomology is demonstrative of what points he will make during the lecture:

Chronic Ethanol Exposure                                                 Chronic Fructose Exposure
Hematologic disorders
Electrolyte abnormalities
Hypertension                                                                          Hypertension
Cardiac dilation
Cardiomyopathy                                                                     Myocardial infarction
Dyslipidemia                                                                           Dyslipidemia
Obesity                                                                                    Obesity
Hepatic dysfunction                                                                 Hepatic dysfunction
Fetal alcohol syndrome                                                            Fetal insulin resistance
Addiction                                                                                 Habituation

Dr. Lustig also makes some excellent pediatric nutritional recommendations that I believe apply to adults as well:
1) Get rid of sugary liquids, including soda and juice.  Drink only milk and water.
2) Always eat fiber with carbohydrate.  Ex. Choose whole grain bread over white bread
3) Wait 20 minutes after finishing your first serving at meals to eat a second serving
4) Buy your screen time, meaning for every hour spent in front of the TV/computer, spend an hour moving around

One point Dr. Lustig makes during his lecture that I want to highlight is that though fruit has a high fructose content, fruit is not bad!  Fruit has a limited amount of fructose, unlike food containing white sugar, and fruit comes prepackaged with lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

The take-away from this lecture is very simple: reduce consumption of desserts, mochas, sodas, bakery items, etc., keep eating fruit and eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and grains.  I advocate moderation and therefore do not support giving up dessert entirely but it should be relegated back to the status of treat instead of daily occurrence.

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gluten-Free Quiche Lorraine

I realized as I looked over past posts that I write a lot about eggs because I eat a lot of eggs.  Free-range eggs are affordable when grass-fed meat is not.  Eggs are easy and versatile and can supply a meal any time of day.  Eggs can be savory or sweet.  Eggs are also a complete source of protein and are easily digestible for most people.  What’s not to like about the humble egg?

I’ve written a lot about the nutritional value of eggs so I’m not going to repeat myself, but if you’d like a little reminder, check out my post on potato salad. 

What I really want to talk about today is quiche!  Oh, how I adore the slightly firm, moist and springy custardy goodness that is quiche.  Do you know how difficult it is to find good pre-made quiche?  Have you really looked?  The only place I’ve found in Seattle that makes a decent (or, dare I say, superb) quiche is Cafe Besalu, but sadly, it's not gluten-free.  Want a pre-made gluten-free quiche?  Forget about it!

I’ve been on a journey for the perfect quiche for several months and I’m not sure I’ve found it, but I’m dang close.  I’ve avoided making this delectable egg pie for years because somehow I thought it was incredibly complicated when it’s really just a little time-consuming.  Once you have the crust, the rest is mixing eggs and cheese and bacon and cream together, not that much different from making a scramble.

As a dietitian, I feel compelled to mention that quiche is not "healthy" in large quantities.  It is delicious and feeds the soul, which in some ways is more important than fat and calorie counts, but I would be negligent in my duties if I did not tell you that quiche is pro-inflammatory.  Make quiche occasionally, share it with friends, eat a reasonable amount, and love every bite!

Now for full disclosure: this is not my crust recipe.  This crust is slightly modified from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly and I’ve raved about her in past posts.  If you’re GF and can eat dairy, I urge you to purchase her cookbook! 

Enough said.  On to the recipe!

Gluten-Free Quiche Lorraine

1 cup GF mix
      (The Mix: 2 cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cups potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour makes 3 cups)
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons frozen butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 oz sharp cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)

1.     Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.     Combine the flour mix, sweet rice flour and salt.  Using a cheese grater, grate 6 tablespoons of butter and add it to the flour mix.  Using a spoon or your fingers, combine the butter and dry ingredients to form a coarse meal.
3.     Make a "well" in the center and break the egg into it.  Add the vinegar.  Using a fork, slightly beat the egg and then mix with the flour and butter.  If the mixture is too dry, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  If the dough is too soft, refrigerate it for 15 minutes before rolling out.
4.     Roll out the dough between to pieces of plastic wrap and gently transfer to a pie plate.  Trim and shape the edges.  Pre-bake for 10 minutes.
5.     Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees F.
6.     While the crust is baking, beat the eggs and combine with the milk, cream, salt pepper and nutmeg.
7.     Sprinkle the bacon and cheese on the bottom of the crust and cover with the egg mixture.
8.     Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the egg custard is mostly solid when the pie plate is jiggled.  If necessary, cover the edges of the crust with tin foil to prevent over-browning.
9.     Let cool for at least 30 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Motivation Exercise: Change one thing today

Do you know you need to change?
Do you know you need to get more sleep or exercise or eat better? 

… Do you feel completely unmotivated anyway? 

The problem with noble intentions like these is that they’re vague—they’re difficult to achieve because they lack specificity.  They are also wide-reaching, and that can make them overwhelming! 

So instead of thinking about every single thing you feel you need to change about yourself and your life, pick one thing.  For instance, instead of focusing on sleep, exercise, and food, decide to focus on just food. 

Food is itself a pretty broad category, and quite frankly you don’t want to change everything about how you eat--I guarantee that you do have some wonderful, healthy eating practices.  So exactly what about your eating needs to change?  Consider adding something instead of taking something away.  Can you add more fruits, veggies, or whole grains?  What about water?  Rather than dwelling upon your “bad” habits, think about your “good” options.  Then decide on one thing.  For example, you might decide to add in more vegetables. 

Adding in more veggies is great because they’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.  But the word “more” is still too broad.  What, specifically, are you going to add?  How much?  What is reasonable for your life?  Is having a salad every single day for lunch achievable, or is it just a dream that you wish would come true? 

Consider your daily life.  Do you eat snacks during your day?  Can you substitute carrots and hummus for that scone?  How about breakfast?  Can you add some chard or spinach to your egg scramble?  What about dinner?  Can you think about the vegetable dish before thinking about the protein and the grain?  Now we’re really getting down to specific changes that a real person can make in the way they live.

Using this method, a useful, achievable healthy eating goal would be: I’m going to eat 3 servings of vegetables every day.  Depending on what you’re already eating, you could’ve said 1 serving or 5 servings or anything in between.  The point of the exercise is to take what you’re doing and improve on it with a simple, unobtrusive change. 

Because change is difficult.  Really.  This is the most important thing to remember, because in two weeks, the reasons why you were making the change will no longer be in the forefront of your mind, and that’s when it gets easy to fall off the wagon.  Remember, if you stumble on the path you have laid out for yourself, you don’t have let yourself crash and burn.  Simply notice what happened, acknowledge it, and get back to your plan. 

Most importantly during all of this, track your changes on a daily basis.  If your plan is to eat more fruits and veggies, write down what you eat at each meal.  If things fall apart, write down why.  If you get yourself back on your plan, write down how you did it.  If you need to, give yourself a gold star at the end of each day!

You can do this!

The Exercise:
Answer the following questions:

1)   What do I want to change about my life?
Ex: Sleep, exercise, food
2)   Pick one change you want to focus on.
Ex: Food
3)   Refine that change--pick one specific aspect.
Ex: Vegetables
4)   Create a quantifiable, achievable goal based on your current lifestyle and practices.
Ex: I will eat vegetables 3 times per day
5)   Figure out realistic ways you are going to make changes to achieve your goal.
Ex: I can add spinach to my morning scramble, hummus and carrots for a snack, sliced cucumbers with my sandwich and an extra vegetable with dinner.
6)   Write it all down
7)   Accept both your successes and failures