Diet trends to watch for in 2022 — know what ashwagandha is?

Cooking Light has out its look at which diets people are quitting in 2022 and what new food trends to expect. Keto is out. Intermittent fasting is in as is something called ashwagandha.

This is what ashwgandha looks like.

Why is keto out? “The diet’s restrictive nature is one reason we think interest is fading. Another reason is that consumers are realizing they can achieve desirable outcomes without eliminating carbs,” the article states.

And for that ashwagandha — “Ashwagandha grew slowly in popularity in 2020 and 2021, but it’s going to be bigger than ever in 2022 so get ready to see this adaptogen everywhere. Used in ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years, adaptogens improve the body’s physiological ability to cope with stress and include ashwagandha, turmeric, holy basil, goji berries, and others—but ashwagandha is one of the most studied.”

That explanation left me scratching my head, so I went to WebMD to find out what this stuff actually is. “Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in Asia and Africa. It is commonly used for stress. There is little evidence for its use as an “adaptogen.” Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system. Since ashwagandha is traditionally used as an adaptogen, it is used for many conditions related to stress.” WebMD states.

So it could be another miracle ingredient that really isn;t much of miracle at all. Always beware of any claims that foods can do other than feed you.

Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket

Remember when supermarkets put out cards with recipes on them? These used to be pretty common at fish counters especially. Well, that function has moved online — you may find it helpful when doing your own weekly meal planning.

I recently got an email from the Jewel supermarket chain (which is owned by Albertson’s) about a meal planning option in its app. My first reaction was that it would feature high-salt, high-fat, high-sugar processed ingredients. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The app let’s you begin by putting in your dietary restrictions. It doesn’t;t include low-salt as one, unfortunately, I put in carb-conscious instead. Other restrictions I included were dairy-free, no nuts, no soy sauce, no eggs and no sulfites.

Continue reading “Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket”

Best diets for 2022? Back to basics

A larger dinner veggie plate, very Mediterranean.

Every year starts with a flurry of stories about diets and people making resolutions to lose weight. We’ve all gained Covid weight haven’t we, sitting around these past two years with no particular place to go?

I just wrote a post about the Mediterranean Diet, which constantly seems to rank at the top. So I wasn’t surprised to see this FoodNetwork.com piece rating it among the three top diets for 2022.

The D.A.S.H. Diet, a close cousin of the Mediterranean, is on here too. The third one is the Flexitarian Diet. This involves a “mix of mostly vegetarian foods, with the freedom to eat meat whenever you feel like it,” FoodNetwork.com reports. That sounds a lot like the first two to me. See what you think, just click here to see the complete article.

Christmas Gift Idea — The Everything Green Mediterranean Cookbook

Anyone with heart issues, or anyone who wants to eat healthy, should be familiar with the Mediterranean Diet, it consistently comes out on top in comparisons of popular diet trends, as I wrote here. So here’s a great holiday gift idea — The Everything Green Mediterranean Cookbook.

Author Peter Minaki put this together during the Pandemic to help people lose weight and get in shape after all the pandemic pounds they may have gained.

And while the name might lead you to think otherwise, there are fish and chicken recipes in here, just no red meat options. If you love artichokes like I do, you’ll find some interesting recipes for those, along with a variety of other options.

Each of the 200 recipes includes nutrition information so you can gauge salt, fat and sugar content and make ingredient substitutions as you like.

Amazon sells the book for $15.19 new, prices vary across various websites.

Cholesterol and Heart-Health: Not Nearly as Simple as We’d Like It To Be

Keep your cholesterol numbers down, particularly the “bad” cholesterol, and you’ll keep your heart healthy…at least that’s what we’d like to think. Sadly, Americans constant search for easy answers about eating and good health gravitate to simple solutions that, most of the time, are simply wrong.

That goes for cholesterol too, according to this article entitled What everyone gets wrong about cholesterol in food on Cnn.com.

The biggest issue, the article notes, “the amount of cholesterol in your food doesn’t necessarily translate to the amount of cholesterol in your blood vessels..”

To elaborate, the article goes on:

‘”Eating foods rich in cholesterol does increase blood cholesterol, usually by a small, but still significant amount,” explained Dr. Stephen Devries, a preventive cardiologist and executive director of the educational nonprofit Gaples Institute in Deerfield, Illinois. But the effect of eating foods that contain a lot of cholesterol “may not be as high as one might expect, because most of the cholesterol in blood actually comes from the body’s own production.” When you consume a bunch of cholesterol, your body will usually make less to compensate.’

Are eggs bad for us because of cholesterol? That’s a more complicated question than you might imagine.

So sorry, it’s not as simple as we’d like. Believe me, I know from first-hand experience. I’ve been on cholesterol-lowering medication since my first stent in 2012 but it didn’t prevent a second blockage in 2017 (and a second stent) and my blood pressure has been elevated recently, so a third blockage could be developing which may require a third angioplasty this summer.

Our bodies and their relationships with what with eat are still much more complex than we know, or would want them to be unfortunately.

Two weeks into my no-sugar challenge — and five pounds lighter

As the year started, my wife challenged me to go for the entire month of January without any added sugar treats. I made it official by blogging about it here. Like a lot of people, we had been eating treats during the pandemic that we normally would not have in the house, such as candy galore from Chicago candy icon Fannie May, or cakes from a local bakery, Tag’s.

The bakery started delivering during the pandemic, even small orders. How could we pass that up? Not well, and you can probably tell that, after 18 days without sugar, I’m now hallucinating about chocolate cake.

The good news, I’ve lost five pounds in the past two weeks or so. The bad news — I’m hungry all the time as I was when I first completely changed my eating habits after a first stent was put in back in 2012.

What would a celebrity trainer say about Drake's Yodels?
Favorites like these haven’t touched my lips yet this year!!!

I also find I’m substituting starchy things — like bagels, English muffins and even whole wheat bread. I had pretty much cut those from my diet in recent years but had some in the freezer this month and so have turned to them.

I did buy some price-reduced after-Christmas candy, M&Ms and chocolate to be specific, which are sitting in our pantry waiting for Feb. 1.

This experiment has reminded me that if you eat healthy, I mean really healthy which means cutting most salt, fat and sugar from your diet, weight loss becomes simple.

You cannot eat enough plain veggies to gain large amounts of weight. Believe me, you should see my broccoli portions these days!

Here’s a January Challenge: No Sugar All Month

My wife presented me with a food challenge as 2020 was drawing to a close — could I go a month without eating foods high in sugar like candy, cake, frozen yogurt — basically all my favorites, and all foods I’d been eating more of last year to cope with the pandemic?

Yes, this blog has no sugar in its name, but I’ve written before that sugar is the toughest of the big three of poor nutrition — salt, fat and sugar — for me to give up. We normally load each other’s Christmas stocking with chocolates of all types.

This year, I asked we go easy, but there was still a lot, along with cookies and cakes. After having lost seven pounds because of illnesses last year, I gained back five pounds in the final month of the year because of sugary treats.

No candy bars for me in January. I’m already freaking out over it.

So I’m up for the challenge. I also have been spurred on by a recent decision by the federal government to ignore scientific guidelines for sugar consumption. Nutrition should not be a political issue but sadly it became one in the Trump years as he tried to undo everything the Obamas did, including their efforts to improve American eating habits.

“A report issued by a scientific advisory committee last summer had recommended that the guidelines encourage Americans to make drastic cuts in their consumption of sugars added to drinks and foods to 6 percent of daily calories, from the currently recommended 10 percent,” the New York Times reported in discussing newly released  Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The new guidelines do no such thing, however.

Continue reading “Here’s a January Challenge: No Sugar All Month”

Pandemic Food Storage Tips: Keeping grapes and mushrooms fresh longer

The Covid-19 pandemic sent grocery sales soaring early this year. Reports say that peak has leveled off in more recent months, but sales are still up significantly year-over-year in the supermarket business.

And because we’re buying more, I thought this would be a good time to review how to keep the items we buy fresher longer, especially when it comes to perishable produce.

Trout, with mushrooms as a garnish.

So here are two articles from Myrecipes.com that give tips on storing mushrooms and grapes. Continue reading “Pandemic Food Storage Tips: Keeping grapes and mushrooms fresh longer”

Having digestion issues with your Covid cooking…here’s why

Americans are eating at home in record numbers these days, with many who have never been that comfortable in the kitcehn suddenly forced to cook — and to shop in food stores with limited supplies.

Finding it all spells some indigestion for you? Well maybe it’s not your cooking so much as what you’re cooking and eating these days. Cooking Light ran this insightful story on eight types of foods that can cause indegestion. Some of these may surprise you, others you should know you shouldn’t overdo.

Here’s one more reason not to eat fried foods.

Top of the list is fried foods, no surrpise there. “They can lead to tummy aches and diarrhea for some, or possibly contribute to reflux for those who experience it,” Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, says in its article.

A surprising one might be raw vegetables but I know from experience they can be a killer depending on your stomach and how it reacts to them.

Other items on the list:

  • Sugar-Free Packaged Foods
  • Chewing Gum
  • Coffee
  • Garlic and Onions
  • Soft Cheeses
  • Legumes

Here’s a handy heart-healthy cookbook for pandemic cooking

If, like most of us, you’re doing more homecooking during the Coronavirus pandemic, you’re liekly running out of new recipes at this point to give some variety to your daily meals.

The American Heart Associaiotn has a free cookbook available, Cooking in Color, that could help with that dilemma.

Among the recipes in the book, which you can grab as a PDF by clicking here, are:

Fruit Kebabs
Tomato and Ricotta Toast
Teriyaki Salmon with Cauliflower Rice
Couscous-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps
Grilled Cuban Mojo Pork Tenderloin with Plantains
Orange-Glazed Turkey with Potatoes and Carrots

Of course, you’re still on your own trying to find the ingredients you need amidst increasing sparse food stroe shelves but hopefully this book will give you some ideas to vary your menu.

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