Friday, May 30, 2008

More Stress Fighting Foods

Are you sensing a theme? I rarely am able to watch daytime television, but I found myself in front of the set yesterday watching some of Martha Stewart's daytime show. The topic caught my attention: Good Mood foods. I thought I would share what they had to say as it ties nicely with my post from earlier this week.
Many people turn to food in times of stress, but don't realize the foods they eat could actually be adding to their high stress levels. Dr. Brent Ridge, vice president of healthy living at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has some tips for altering your diet to help ease anxiety.
Diet Can Play a Huge Role in Causing Stress
Carbohydrate-rich foods and sweets such as doughnuts boost the release of serotonin in the body, helping the body to regulate anxiety and mood. But these foods also cause a quick rise and fall in blood-sugar levels, and when the sugar level falls, people often eat more of those foods to get another boost -- leading to the consumption of an enormous amount of calories.
-Trans-fatty acids found in fast food reduce circulation and raise blood pressure, keeping the body in a constant state of stress.
-Many people reach for caffeine when stressed, but caffeine boosts adrenaline production and only puts the body more on edge. When opting for caffeine, try green, black, or oolong tea, which give the caffeine boost but also contain amino acids such as L-theanine that help to ease tension.
-Alcohol can make you feel good in the moment, but it will also disturb sleep patterns, ultimately producing more stress, both physiologically and psychologically.
Foods to Help Soothe Stressed-Out Nerves
Avocados, Baked Potatoes (with Skin), Bananas, Yellow-Fin Tuna
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin B6.
-Why it helps: Stress depletes B6, which helps produce serotonin.
-Best foods for B6: Fortified whole grain cereals, chick peas, salmon, lean beef, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, white potatoes with skin, oatmeal, bananas, pistachios, lentils, tomato paste, barley, rice (wild or brown), peppers, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, broccoli rabe, carrots, brussels sprouts, peanut butter, eggs, shrimp, tofu, apricots, watermelon, avocado, strawberries, whole grain bread.
Clams, Fat-Free Milk, Fat-Free Yogurt, Salmon
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin B12.
-Why it helps: It helps form GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.
-Best foods for B12: shellfish, salmon, fortified whole-grain cereals, enriched or fortified soy milk, trout, tuna, lean beef, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, egg, cheese.
Asparagus, Chickpeas, Lentils, Oatmeal
-Helpful nutrient: folate (folic acid).
-Why it helps: It helps make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
-Best foods for folate: Fortified whole-grain cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, oatmeal, turnip greens, spinach, mustard greens, green peas, artichokes, okra, beets, parsnips, broccoli, broccoli rabe, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, oranges and juice, brussels sprouts, papaya, seaweed, berries, cauliflower, corn, whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta.
Almonds, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds, Tofu, Wild Rice
-Helpful nutrient: magnesium.
-Why it helps: Stress depletes magnesium, which stimulates the production of GABA and helps make dopamine.
-Best foods for magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, amaranth, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, quinoa, tempeh, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, soybeans, millet, beans, artichoke hearts, peanuts, peanut butter, chickpeas, brown rice, whole-grain bread, sesame seed, wheat germ, flax seed.
Broccoli, Orange Juice, Red and Green Peppers, Strawberries
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin C
-Why it helps: It boosts your immune system and fights brain-cell damage resulting from constant exposure to cortisol (a stress hormone).
-Best foods for vitamin C: guava, bell peppers, orange juice, hot chile peppers, oranges, grapefruit juice, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papaya, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos, grapefruit, white potatoes with skin, mustard greens, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, clementines, rutabagas, turnip greens, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, green tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, tangerines, lemon juice, okra, lychees, summer squash, persimmons.
First Published: September 2007

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beating Stress Through Diet

It seems that many people in my life have been having a high-stress month. I have to believe this is reaching outside my immediate circle. I subscribe to several e-newsletters, one from I am just now catching up on old issues and just read an interesting article from the April newsletter I thought I would pass along. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy!

Top Five Stress-Busting Foods
Written by Gloria Tsang, RD and Christina NewberryPublished in April 2008
These days, it seems like every time you turn around, someone's talking about stress. With busier and busier schedules, and more and more demands to deal with every day, people are more stressed out than ever. But did you know you can fight the effects of stress just by adding certain stress-busting foods to your diet?
Top 5 Stress-Busting Foods
Whole-grain pasta/popcorn: Many high-carb foods are already often thought of as "comfort" foods. But did you know that the whole grain versions of these old favorites also contain good carbs, which can boost serotonin (the "feel-good" brain chemical), to help reduce stress? Go for whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, brown or wild rice, or popcorn if you need a dose of comfort.
Tea (black/green/white): A warm drink can help soothe frazzled nerves, especially on a cold day. Instead of sipping coffee, which is packed with agitating caffeine, opt for green, white, or black tea instead. They contain half as much caffeine as coffee, and are loaded with beneficial flavonoid compounds. Skip the cream and sugar to make your cup of relaxation calorie-free.
Dark green vegetables: Just one more reason why your mother always told you to eat your broccoli - it contains high levels of B vitamins, a group of stress-relieving vitamins that can also calm anxiety and depression. Other dark green vegetables like kale, chard, collard greens, bok choy, asparagus, and green beans also fit into this category.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds can take the edge off gnawing afternoon hunger that may itself be stressing you out. Plus, they contain high levels of B vitamins, and magnesium - another mineral also involved in serotonin production. Too many of these tasty snacks can add a lot of extra calories to your diet, though (for example, 15 cashews contain about 180 calories), so stick to not more than 1.5 oz of unsalted nuts or seeds per day
Citrus fruits and berries: Fruits like oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, and strawberries are all excellent sources of Vitamin C - a potent stress-busting vitamin. Plus, the Vitamin C found in citrus fruits is involved in the production of collagen, which helps keep your skin firm and reduces wrinkling, to help you hide the effects of stress you've already lived through.
The Bottom Line
You don't have to pop a pill or become a yoga master to reduce the amount of stress in your hectic life. Just add these stress-busting foods to your diet and you'll be well on the way to a calmer existence.

Monday, May 12, 2008

International Pickle Week (May 16 – 26, 2008)

International Pickle Week, yes that is right – worldwide fun for my fellow pickle lovers, begins on May 16 and actually runs 10 days (no not really a week, is it?!). Pickles have been deemed the world’s funniest vegetable. The pickle week ends on Memorial weekend to kick off the start of summer right!

International Pickle Week began in 1948 to celebrate those brined cucumber treats. The key to make pickles is starting with the right
type of cucumber. The cucumbers we find in the market to add to our salads, long and sleek do not make the best pickles. Often time you can see the small ones called pickling cucumbers in the market, or most people who make their own pickles grow their own cucumbers. Traditionally pickles are made by curing cucumbers in a salt-water solution for four to six weeks. During this time, naturally occurring bacteria from the salt and the cucumbers themselves slowly change the bright green cucumbers to the dark olive skinned pickles and change the opaque interior translucent. Pickles can be fast packed which includes soaking them in a vinegar solution for much shorter time period.

Dill or kosher pickles are the most popular types of pickles. These are made by adding dill weed and lots of garlic to the brining process. Gherkins are small dill pickles.

Sweet pickles are the second most popular type of pickles. Sugar is added to the brine to give these their sweet flavor. Bread and butter pickles are a type of sweet pickle.

Cucumbers are not the only vegetable to be pickled. Other pickled favorites include peppers,
cabbage (sauerkraut), beans, okra, root vegetables like turnips and beets, carrots, radishes, ginger, mangos, watermelon rind, hard-boiled eggs, various meats and let us not forget olives and capers.

I love adding pickles to a sandwich for both crunch and great flavor. They go well to with grilled items like burgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken breasts. I love adding relishes to my chicken and egg salads.

Although I have not tried it myself, I found a recipe for fried pickles. What could be better?

Serves 4 – 6

3 to 4 large dill pickles, whole
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup beer
1 Tablespoon cayenne
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powde
r3 dashes hot pepper sauce
Vegetable oil for frying

Cut dill pickles into 1/4” thick slices.

Combine flour, beer, cayenne, paprika, pepper, salt, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Dip pickle slices into batter.

Heat oil to 375°F in a large, deep saucepan. Fry pickles until they float to the surface, about 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Possible dipping sauce include orange blossom sauce, a horseradish mayonnaise or buttermilk ranch.

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