ABC10 | Healthy Ways to Eat Pumpkin

pumpkinHard to believe summer officially ended and as if overnight, we’ve rolled into pumpkin season. I revisited ABC10 last week as their TV health expert and was excited to feature some healthy ways to eat America’s beloved fall vegetable. Pumpkins are packed with anti-aging nutrition and are a versatile veggie — you can cook it, soup it, bake it, sweeten it, or just eat their seeds! Pumpkin for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Yes, yes, and yes! Click HERE to link to the video

On the menu:

  • BREAKFAST: Pumpkin Nut Belgian Waffles — Chopped walnuts add a healthy dose of heart healthy omega-3’s to these light whole grain waffles. Topped with my favorite naturally sweet Spiced Apple Topping. (This antioxidant-rich topping is delicious over yogurt and muesli, pumpkin pancakes, and ice cream too!)
  • BREAKFAST, SNACK OR DESSERT: Super Moist Pumpkin Bars with Greek Cream Cheese Pineapple Frosting — These bars are delicious and healthy any time!
  • ENTREE: Pumpkin Marinara over Green Lentil Pasta — Super easy to make and super rich in skin-loving ingredients: pumpkin and tomato purée!
  • SOUP: Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Soup in Pumpkin Tureen  — Pumpkins + apples make the perfect pair.
  • BEVERAGE: Pineapple Pumpkin Smoothie  — This creamy smoothie (frozen pineapple, bananas, pumpkin, chia seeds, and Greek yogurt) makes a great way to start the day, pick you up in the afternoon, or reenergize you after a workout. Freeze it for a fresh fruit frozen dessert! 😀
  • DESSERT: Pumpkin Bark — Handmade extreme dark chocolate with roasted pumpkin seeds and almonds.

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Nutrition Session 2: The Specifics

Grocery Bag With Fruits and Vegetables

Do you need help planning balanced, antioxidant-rich* meals? This small-group session is a follow-up to “The Basics” class. It provides you with specific menus based around centenarian principles and the vegetarian and Mediterranean-style patterns. (The Basics class is not required, but recommended.)

Simple menu plans and plant-rich plates are heart healthy, diabetic friendly, and cancer protective. Ideal if you’re trying to lose weight and want simplicity in the kitchen.

*Note: If you received a low antioxidant test score, i.e., Skin Carotenoid Score (SCS), when we tested you at the Kick-Off Shopping Party, the menus provided in this class will help you boost antioxidant activity and your SCS score.

OBJECTIVE: Learn how to put healthy eating into practice.

FEE: $30 

WHEN: Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm

WHERE: Sports Basement San Ramon – 1041 Market Place, San Ramon, CA  94583

INSTRUCTOR: Karen Owoc, B.S., Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist / Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist

Participants will receive 20% off on all purchases at the Sports Basement on this day.

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ABC10 | Healthy 4th of July!

What do you have planned for the Fourth of July? Here are some pics of what I prepared for my guest appearance on ABC 10. Click HERE to link to the video. Think FRESH and seasonal. There are so many sumptuous fruits and vegetables that are perfect for your picnic, party, or just you! See what’s “in season” at this time of year by scrolling over to the right column of this blog page. 

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Fresh Features…

Appetizer

  • Burrata Bites – Fresh Italian cheese in a fresh endive leaf ‘cup’ topped with fresh diced peaches, raspberries, and toasted almonds, then drizzled with Sonoma Gold balsamic vinegar — the key ingredient!

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Sides    Continue reading “ABC10 | Healthy 4th of July!”

Matcha: The Ultimate Health Drink ☘

Organic green matcha tea

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to the usual shamrock-shaded green beer to show your St. Patrick’s Day spirit, try matcha. Matcha (pronounced “MA-cha”) is a finely ground green tea powder that dates back to a 1,000-year-old Japanese tea ceremony. Preparing and serving matcha is a formal art in Japan and the health benefits of this green elixir have been striking.

The Magic of Matcha

Researchers consider green tea the healthiest beverage you can drink. Its health benefits have been studied since the 1990s due to their strong correlation between long life and health in many Asian cultures. Extensive studies on green tea revealed that it provides significant protection against:

  • Cardiovascular disease heart disease (atherosclerosis)
  • Low density lipoproteins (LDLs – the “bad” cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke

Healthy, plaque-free blood vessels are good for your heart and what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. An active, working brain requires sufficient blood flow.

Catechin Polyphenols

What makes matcha so beneficial? Something called polyphenols. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants and green tea contains polyphenols classified as “catechins” (pronounced KAT’-eh-kins).

Catechin polyphenols are found in the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Catechins are also found in red wine, chocolate, berries, and apples, but in smaller amounts compared to tea leaves.

Four types of tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant:

  • Black
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • White

Green tea undergoes much less processing than the other teas, so it contains more antioxidants as well as less caffeine. Specifically, these hand-picked green tea leaves are high in catechin polyphenols called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is the most active and most studied of the polyphenols.

How to Drink It

Matcha is made from high quality leaves and is jewel green in color. When drinking matcha, in contrast to drinking steeped green tea, you are drinking the whole leaf and not just the brewed water from the leaves. Therefore, when drinking matcha, you’re consuming 10 times the antioxidants, i.e., the health benefits in one cup of matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea.    Continue reading “Matcha: The Ultimate Health Drink ☘”

Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading “Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule”