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 Father’s Day

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Hope all you dads out there had a Happy Father’s Day! Here are pics from my guest expert appearance on ABC 10 featuring healthy meals that kids can make for dear ol’ dad or for any occasion. I used pre-cut veggies and pre-sliced beef and Lékué steam cases (both the large and small size) for cooking. No need for kids to have to slice, dice, or cook over a hot stove.

If you haven’t tried a Lékué steam case yet, you are missing out on an opportunity to make healthy, easy and fast cuisine. It’s a new way of cooking! More to come on my “Fit Finds” page.

On the menu:

  • Appetizer: Broccamole (Aztec Guacamole) with fresh carrot “chips”, sliced cucumbers, broccoli florets, baked sweet potato crinkles, and a mixed medley of cherry tomatoes. Broccoli was chopped with my “pull” food processor. No knives! (Adult supervision is still needed.)
  • Entree: Asian Sliced Beef and Veggies (beef and vegetables were purchased pre-sliced ‘fajita’ style, then marinated, and cooked in the large red Lékué steam case)
  • Side: Chili Beans with Diced Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower (‘riced’ veggies were also purchased pre-diced and cooked in the small green Lékué steam case)
  • Beverage: Iced Tea with fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Dessert: Fresh Fruit Cup (layers of fresh kiwi, raspberries, strawberries, mango + crumbled whole wheat graham crackers + Kozy Shack® tapioca pudding topped with non-fat whipped cream and a Bing cherry on top)

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Stay tuned… I’ll be featuring a healthy Fourth of July meal on ABC 10 next week!

ABC10 | Healthy Easter Basket Treats

I was on ABC10 TV out of Sacramento yesterday to show their viewers (a.k.a. Easter bunnies) how to pull together a ‘healthy Easter basket’. Hmmm…. that’s an oxymoron, you say. Believe it or not, options outside of solid chocolate bunnies, Peeps and sugar-coated sugar do actually exist.

Here are my five basic principles when it comes to “healthify-ing” this tradition.

  • Include plant-based foods and plant-based colorants.
  • Load up on whole grains.
  • Use healthy fats.
  • Cut back on sugar.
  • Swap out milk chocolate with dark chocolate.

All the recipes for the treats on the show will be featured in my upcoming book, “Athletes in Aprons“. 😀

Oat & Berry Bars: These whole-grain, gluten-free bars are made with oat flour and rolled oats layered with an organic berry purée sweetened with just apple juice.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: These cookies will surprise you! They’re made with garbanzo bean and fava bean flours, oat flour, zucchini, dairy-free dark chocolate, and organic unsweetened applesauce. Gluten-free.

Fudge Brownies: These fudge-y treats are made with whole wheat flour and… spinach. Really! Their moist richness comes from just a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, unsweetened applesauce, and golden ground flaxseeds. You have to taste ’em to believe they’re not loaded with hydrogenated fat and white flour.

Banana-Date Granola: Most granolas are made with lots of oats, sugar and fat. Here’s a no-sugar/no-fat-added granola (no kidding!) made with a base of protein- and     Continue reading “ABC10 | Healthy Easter Basket Treats”

Lengthen the Life of Your Produce | Frig 101

Fresh produce in grocery bag

You just returned from the Farmer’s Market, arms overflowing with fresh, seasonal produce that need to go in the frig fast. Do you randomly stash them in the produce drawer? That is, do you put them wherever they fit… only to find that a few days later your greens are wimpy, berries are moldy, and your cucumbers are shriveling? If this sounds familiar, here’s how to store your bounty to maintain their optimal freshness.

humidity-drawerThose drawers in your refrigerator, a.k.a. humidity drawers or produce crispers, actually have a purpose. Notice the humidity controls ranging from low to high on each drawer. Do you know what they mean?

These settings aren’t anything fancy. They simply open or close a window in the drawer. For the low humidity setting, the window is completely open; for the high humidity setting, it is completely closed. And here’s why…

The Gassy Offender

Ethylene gas is produced naturally and released by many fruits and veggies. It causes:

  • Cells to degrade
  • Fruit to ripen (become softer and sweeter)
  • Leaves to go limp
  • Seeds or buds to sprout

Knowing which items are ethylene-gas producers and which are sensitive to the gas, you’ll never toss your apples in with your lettuce again. It’s all about the gas!

What Goes in the Low-Humidity Drawer (“Low Rot”)

Apples, pears and grapes

1. Produce that IS NOT sensitive to moisture loss.
2. Produce that emits ethylene gas. When the window is open, the gases escape, and fruits and vegetables won’t spoil prematurely.

Here are some common fruits and vegetables to keep in the low-humidity drawer (window open):    Continue reading “Lengthen the Life of Your Produce | Frig 101”

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”