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 Post subject: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 19, 2016 12:06 pm 
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Not literally; figuratively. I go into the kitchen these days to prepare a "healthy" meal and find myself turning circles and looking about and trying to determine what is "healthy" these days.

A bit of background. I cook the majority of what we eat from scratch. We eat out occasionally, but not much. I try to avoid pre-packaged foods to some extent; I do use some canned tomatoes, beans and such and occasionally some boxed foods, but they are in the minority. I try to use at least some wheat flour or whole grain in baking and purchasing baked products. We don't have a lot of regular pasta, white potatoes and never white rice. I puree veggies and incorporate the purees in sauces and soups and baking whenever possible. I use black beans and zucchini in brownies and use pumpkin in baking mixes instead of oil and eggs.

My husband had a couple heart attacks back in 2009/2010 (he wasn't overweight, didn't smoke and was very active, but his family history had high cholesterol and he was no exception. He couldn't take statins, and his readings were in the mid-200s when the heart attacks occurred), and during his recovery, we went to the cardiac rehab classes that included nutritional courses. We really didn't eat all that bad from what we learned; we tweaked a few things and they were finally able to find a statin that he could take (combined with CoQ10) which reduced his numbers to the normal range, probably with some help from dietary changes and some vitamins and supplements.

One of the biggest areas they concentrated on at that time was to limit high cholesterol foods (including egg yolks), saturated fats, partially hydrogenated oils, butter etc. They encouraged lower fat foods, and not a lot of red meat. I never agreed with the eggs being bad for him bit, and even though I reduced them and mixed in egg whites at times, I didn't limit the eggs as much as they suggested. We already used margarine, and olive oil and we switched from full fat milk to 1% or sometimes fat free (yuck). We cut back on red meat, bacon, sausage and cheese and incorporated more veggies and fruit in our diet in smoothies and pureed veggies. We stopped using fast food places, except, occasionally Subway, and were careful what we chose. We stopped eating fried foods, and baking our own whenever possible.

Over the years, his cholesterol has remained within good ranges, he's still very active and in good shape, but his sugar levels have floated just under and just over pre-diabetic. Recently, the food guidelines have changed somewhat and they say eggs are okay and we don't have to watch out so much for cholesterol readings on labels, and now there is a lot of talk about maybe saturated fat isn't all as bad as they once said it was, if its the right kind of saturated fat, such as coconut (which was a no-no back when we took these classes). They also say that fat-free and low-fat foods have more sugar then full-fat and maybe butter, even though its much higher in the saturated fat, is better then margarine and you should use the full fat foods instead of the low fat because the sugar is worse. Then there are those that say that grains are bad and killing your brain and pasta, breads and cereals should be totally eliminated from one's diet. And then there is the whole deal about gluten and how bad it is...

From what I see, the only thing they all seem to agree on is veggies are good, nuts are good, blueberries are good and sugar is bad. So nowadays, we still cook a lot, lean towards low fat, but not fat free foods, bring back in some limited full fat foods if they have lower sugar levels, stay mostly away from bacon, sausage (though we'll use chicken, turkey or veggie sausage) and fried foods, eat some meats and fish (which my husband tolerates- he's really a meat and potatoes guy), lots of salad and veggies, nuts and some fruit. We use 1-2% milk and unsweetened almond milk. We try to limit sugary snacks and desserts and I use coconut sugar a lot in baking, substitute in bananas, applesauce and sweet potato for sweetness and use coconut oil and oil olive for cooking. I'm still torn on the whole butter/margarine issue and use some of both. I basically feel too much of anything is bad, so I use combinations of many different things, because I just don't know what is "healthy" these days and if I'm doing something wrong that is helping my husband towards developing diabetes.

So I'm not seeking medical advice, but if you try to cook "healthy", what guidelines do you gauge "healthy" by and why? Thanks for any comments.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 19, 2016 12:46 pm 
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Your observations are spot on, yet still made my head spin.

I cook primarily from scratch as well. My best "rule" that serves me:
I try to place on the table delicious items that are recognizable from their original state. That rule limits what is added to a dish and how much the item gets processed to an edible, desirable state.
The kitchen can be a battle ground...and the rules of conflict are constantly changing.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 19, 2016 1:34 pm 
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You alluded to the problem with trying to follow the "government" guidelines - they change over time and contradict what was said previously. Salt is bad, salt is necessary; eggs are bad, eggs are good; nuts are fattening, nuts make good snacks. And on and on.

I too cook everything from scratch. No boxed meals, anything. Since I have a vegetable garden, I grow my own lettuce, herbs, leafy vegetables, potatoes, squashes and sometimes tomatoes and peppers. I can things like spinach and squash. I also make and can my own soups, broths, beans, etc.

We use butter and oils like canola and olive and I am starting to use coconut oil. I do use canned tomatoes and tomato sauce because I cannot prepare this myself and use frozen corn as I cannot grow that very well. I don't think we'll die of chemicals in the can lining; at least the cans are not sealed with lead. ***joke***

In other words, we do not use many "fake foods" or prepared foods. Yes, it takes a longer time to cook but my husband and I love leftovers and I freeze meals.

Basically, my theory is to use whole foods that people have eaten for ever, maybe a little sugar in the occasional dessert, and not read too much about food warnings. There is so much opinion on foods that are good or bad written so I ignore most of that. In my opinion, nutritionalists really don't know what good, how much is good, why it's good, and kinda just go "with their gut" to make suggestions. Same with vitamins - who decides how much is good or not good or whatever?


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 20, 2016 2:28 pm 
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No garden for me. :-(. Just not possible right now.

We love leftovers too and live out of the freezer a lot. I don't care for many cooked veggies, though I'm fine with most raw ones. I don't have a lot of time, so I use my baby electric pressure cooker with sweet and regular potatoes and butternut squash (they all literally cook in 4 minutes) and mash or leave cut up & freeze them. I do the same with wild or brown or black rice, quinoa, farro and beans, all of which pressure cook really fast. I roast cherry tomatoes from Costco and freeze those too. I make different pestos from veggies on sale and freeze those too, in ice cube trays. So some foods I would consider along healthier lines are always at the ready. I pressure cook or indoor grill most of our meat, chicken etc. too, so its faster. Then all I need do is come up with raw veggie combinations in salads and I do serve some veggies cooked.

Because I don't care for many cooked veggies, yet want to incorporate them in, the other main thing I do is buy frozen cauliflower and fresh zucchini and puree it in my blender. I also pressure cook carrots and combine with the sweet potatoes and puree it. Then I freeze them in little containers and defrost as needed. I add a tablespoon to half a cup of the cauliflower puree to anything that will handle it, such as spaghetti sauce, soups, chili, pulled pork, baked beans, bean dip, hummus, guacamole etc. Something with a strong enough flavor to drown out the flavor of the added puree either on its own or with a little extra seasoning, so it tastes like expected. Things tomato based can also take the sweet potato carrot puree, so spaghetti sauce and chili are boosted with a bunch of extra veggies that you don't know are there. The sweet potato carrot one can be added to muffins and other baked goods to cut the sugar and add veggies. There are other combinations of veggie purees I use sometimes, but these two I use almost daily. So this likely would meet chef-gal's listed guidelines for her meals, and meets mine for trying to get more veggies in our diet. The pureed veggie idea comes courtesy of "The Sneaky Chef" off the internet.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 21, 2016 2:52 pm 
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As someone who has chosen food as a career and cooked for others for over 20 years, I understand how some folks feel overwhelmed with the mixed messages from the "Food Gurus." My own husband has issues with cholesterol, and there is solid evidence to suggest that heart disease and diabetes are intertwined. I'll tell you what I tell my clients and what I follow in my own home: eat food(s) that resemble their natural state as closely as possible, that are minimally processed and don't come pre-packaged or boxed. Steaming, lightly sauteing and baking are my cooking methods of choice. I also grill my fresh vegetables and proteins for depth of flavor, despite what the experts say about carcinogens hanging out on the surface of over-grilled food.

Watch the sugar, the white flour and salt. Beware of the nitrates, nitrites and sulfates. Ditch the sodas. You can control all of this by cooking from scatch whenever possible. YOU NOW HAVE TOTAL CONTROL. Keep your meals simple: a protein, 1-2 varieties of vegetables and fresh fruit are all filling and delicious. If you can't pronounce it or don't recognize it, IT'S NOT REAL and therefore, probably not good for you!! I wouldn't have margerine in my home; I do not to this day know what is in it or how it is made. I use only butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil, moderately. If it has color, it's good for you. Limit your portions, especially with the proteins, to 4-5 ounces per person. How MUCH you consume is as important as WHAT you consume. Get out of your comfort zone and don't be afraid to try some new fresh herbs, spices and cuisines. They can add variety to keep you from getting bored, and help you focus on your goals of eating more healthfully. Check out the thousands of sites on the internet for recipes and guides to helping you manage cooking in a more natural way.

Good Luck, and keep your eyes on the prize: Better Health through Better Eating.

Irene/Creative Cuisine


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 22, 2016 2:14 pm 
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Irene- thanks for the input. I think I'm doing most of what you suggest and what seems to be along the general guidelines of others that have responded. I would guess that I probably cook 90% of our meals from scratch and try to make about 1/2 of each meal some type of vegetable or combination of vegetable and fruit. I do limit meat portions as well. I use my little indoor grill for chicken breasts (mostly because of the 4 minutes it takes to cook them) and I will grill some vegetables on it as well. I never buy frozen, ready made meals; I cook my own meals and freeze them. I seldom use boxed food and do limit white flour products considerably, choosing wheat or multigrain whenever possible and I even try to keep those to a minimum. We also cut way back on sugar.

My one deviation that I've been torn over changing is margarine vs butter. I know my husband has been doing well as far as cholesterol on lower fat foods, including the margarine and if we switch back to high fat butter and full fat cheeses and similar foods because the lower fat foods have more sugar, I fear that could cause his cholesterol to increase again. Its like a balancing act between cholesterol and pre-diabetic. Those cardiac rehab classes we took stressed saturated fat as a no-no so strongly; its difficult to determine whether the statin was what reduced the cholesterol or whether it was reducing the saturated fat he was getting. My guess is both played a part in it. I'm also thinking that margarine is worse then butter though. Nowadays, if a baking recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter or oil, I tend to use 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/8 cup butter and 1/8 cup margarine. I sometimes replace 1/8 cup coconut oil with unsweetened applesauce as well, and use banana, avocado, pumpkin, zucchini or sweet potato sometimes as well. In all cases, I use less sugar then called for, add "good" ingredients to the recipe to make it go further so there is less bad stuff in each serving and often use part coconut sugar or brown sugar or honey or a combination there of depending on the recipe.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 22, 2016 2:24 pm 
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I have been following the Trim Healthy Mama plan for about 2 years now and have lost a good deal of weight, and inches, been healthier, had more energy, and have younger looking skin (so say others). These sisters are not doctors or nutritionists, but they've done their research and it seems to be working for, literally, millions of us. Read the book to review their research and personal testimonies. It's not a 'diet', but a lifestyle but it sounds like you live/cook that way already. I've never had so much food freedom and have found really good (tasting) substitutes for my over-the-top sweet tooth! Hubby is also a fan of the 'rib-sticking' meals. I highly encourage you to check the book out of the library (or buy it) and see for yourself. here's the info:

Main website: http://www.trimhealthymama.com/
lady who's written a quick start guide: http://gwens-nest.com/trim-healthy-mama ... art-guide/

Have fun :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 22, 2016 6:06 pm 
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Hi krm18
Sounds like you're doing all the right things!! Regarding the saturated fat, and specifically butter, sometimes I think if you use less of the "real stuff" you get that fat feel on the tongue and the great flavor, which equals a satisfied palate. Have you tried using olive oil or avocado oil as a better substitute for the margerine? They are vegetable based, and better fats than margerine. We stopped using butter on toast and bread, and now simply spread some fresh avocado, smashed, whenever we have some. It tastes great, and we don't miss the butter. The applesauce and other items like banana, avocado, etc. are great "cheats" which help keep the consistency of baked goods in the correct proportions so they cook properly at our high altitude. I also use plain Greek yogurt. I have read that things like sweet potatoes and bananas are on the higher end of the glycemic index, which can spike the blood sugar. It's such a balancing act; but I still feel they have a place in a healthy diet. Sounds like you're doing everything you can.

Looks like netuser99 has a plan that might help you a little further. I'm going to look at that myself!!

Keep cooking!
Irene


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 22, 2016 6:12 pm 
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THM saysv that if you eat a little protein with every snack, that helps keep the blood sugar from spiking too (e.g. almond/peanut buttery or cheese with your apple slices).
They have a mint chocolate chip "milkshake" (made with cottage cheese! ) that I would swear came from chik FIL a!!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 22, 2016 6:13 pm 
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THM saysv that if you eat a little protein with every snack, that helps keep the blood sugar from spiking too (e.g. almond/peanut buttery or cheese with your apple slices).
They have a mint chocolate chip "milkshake" (made with cottage cheese! ) that I would swear came from chik FIL a!!!!!


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Post Posted: Nov 22, 2016 6:23 pm 
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I've read that about the protein with every meal; I actually eat more protein than most suggest. Love cottage cheese and the almond butter!!

You also sound like a well educated cook!


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 Post subject: Re: Do you get lost in the kitchen?
Post Posted: Nov 23, 2016 12:23 am 
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I do try to make sure there is protein with every meal and for snacks too. I add oatmeal, oat bran or protein powder to many baked items. We like almond or peanut butter on Granny Smith apples, some cheeses, mixed nuts, avocado toast, Greek yogurt with ranch seasoning, and things like that. Once in a while, I make a pumpkin (or raspberry) "cheesecake" using silken tofu and vanilla yogurt, but never thought of using cottage cheese in a milkshake- interesting.


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