Film Review: Food Evolution – Pro-Science or Pro-GMO?

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Photo source: foodevolutionmovie.com

Film Review: Food Evolution

By Adrienne Raimo, RDN

Description: The film Food Evolution asserts that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), despite a controversial reputation, are a safe and intelligent solution to feeding an over-populated world.

Synopsis: Through his film, Food Evolution, the director aims to furnish some answers to the questions of how the science behind GMOs might be used to feed the earth’s growing population. While portraying those concerned about the health and environmental impacts of GMOs as misinformed and fear-mongering, he champions the developments of certain GMO foods as a way to improve crop resistance to disease and drought. The film tries to assume an objective, evidence-based analysis of the science behind GMOs as a safe and reasonable solution for looming issues of food security and sustainability as well as environmental health.

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Recipe: Avocado Egg Salad

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We’re celebrating National Egg Salad Week by sharing two delicious recipes – Avocado Egg Salad (made without mayonnaise!) AND an egg-less, vegan version with chickpeas. Pull those leftover, hard-boiled eggs from the fridge and let’s get started!

Avocado Egg Salad (vegan optional)
Serves 2-3
Prep time: 8 minutes

4 organic large eggs (substitute a 15oz can of drained chickpeas for eggs to make vegan)
1/2 avocado, pitted and chopped
1 tsp mustard
1/8 cup green onions, chopped
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lime juice (helps prevent browning of avocado)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dill weed
Pinch of paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Mash avocado in a medium bowl then repeat mashing when you add the hard-boiled eggs (or chickpeas) to the bowl. Mix all other ingredients into the bowl, except paprika.

Egg salad is best served chilled. Stick mixture in the fridge for at least 1/2 hr before garnishing with paprika and enjoying on your favorite bread, on top of a bed of greens, or in a wrap.

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Serving vs. Portion Size

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Dark chocolate coconut ice cream with banana chips, gluten-free mini cookies, and dark chocolate pieces. Truly decadent.

Do you know how much you’re really eating? It can be difficult to tell if our portion sizes are right for our bodies’ nutritional needs.

Portion sizes have grown quite drastically in recent decades and, with it, people’s waistlines and confusion about how much they are eating versus what they should. Let’s get back to the basics. Even with healthy food, eating too much can add inches to our waistlines and counteract progress to our goals.

What is a serving size and how do I find it?

The serving size is the amount of food listed on a product’s nutrition facts label, along with the nutritional values (calories, protein, fiber, sugar, carbohydrates, etc) associated with that amount of food. So let’s say you are drinking a 20oz soda and the serving size is 8oz; there are 2.5 servings in the bottle. If you drink that whole bottle, you’ll need to multiply 2.5 with all of the calories, sugar, carbohydrates and more listed in the nutrition facts label. It’s sobering.

For foods without a nutrition facts label, how will you know what a serving size is? Luckily WebMD has a handy-dandy handout with some common household items as a reference point for servings of various fruits, vegetables, grains, and more.

Okay, but how many servings of each food should I eat?

Here’s a guide from the American Heart Association with suggested serving sizes from each food group to get started. Remember, your needs and chosen food groups may be different from what is listed. It’s a guide; reach out to your nutrition professional to set up an individualized plan (especially if there are certain food groups you’re avoiding due to food allergies or sensitivities or dietary preferences, such as being gluten-free or vegetarian/vegan).

Whaaaa? It’s says here my ice cream servings is 1/2 cup. That’s totally too small!

First, as fellow ice cream lovers, we agree with you. This part of your exploration may shock you. Check out serving sizes for cheese, nuts, and oils for further surprises.

What’s the difference between serving and portion sizes then?

A portion size is the amount of food we choose to eat at one time and this means we can control our portion sizes. We can choose to eat less than a serving of food or multiples of it.

So as discussed before, the serving size of ice cream is 1/2 cup; however, the portion size can vary…it is the amount of food you choose to eat in one sitting. So, for ice cream, you/me/we may choose to eat closer to 1 cup of this decadent dessert. In this case we’ve all screamed for more ice cream and promptly devoured 1 portion but 2 servings total.

What I do now?

How far do you want to take this? It can be helpful to use measuring cups to actually see what 1/2 cup of ice cream or 2 Tbsp of nuts looks like. Counting out a serving size of pretzels or chips can be eye-opening as well.

You can also stick with a guideline of 1/2 your plate being vegetables, 1/4 of it being protein, and 1/4 of it being starch (try for whole grains or healthier starchy vegetable such as sweet potato versus macaroni and cheese or pasta).

Consider tracking your serving sizes and portion sizes for a few days; you can write the food you eat and the amount down in a food journal or use an app such as MyFitnessPal. Increased awareness may jump-start a few small changes in how much you eat and can help with weight loss.

 

 

 

Garlic Basil Spaghetti Squash

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With the super-bugs going around and infecting people with flu/cold and coughs that linger for weeks, we thought it was high-time to bring in some garlic. Other than the folklore surrounding its ability to keep vampires at bay, did you know that garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties? This vegetable from the lily family has a well-deserved space on our plates this season.

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash
25oz jar of tomato sauce
1 bulb garlic, peeled and minced
6oz white button mushrooms, sliced
5oz shredded green cabbage
1oz fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

Carefully cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down on baking sheet into pre-heated oven (400 degrees) and cook for 45-50 minutes.

Prep all other ingredients with knife and cutting board. Put garlic and mushrooms in large pan over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add cabbage, tomato sauce, and fresh basil and simmer until done.

After spaghetti squash has cooled a bit, use oven mitt to hold while scraping out ‘spaghetti’ with a fork. Top with tomato sauce mixture and enjoy!

Review: Pure Barre Experience

Happy new year! Adrienne here….as you know by now, I like to test things out before suggesting them to you. I’ll share with you my personal review as well as others’ so you get a well-rounded idea of the Pure Barre experience.

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It seemed like Pure Barre was composed of easy, delicate, pretty dance-like movements in front of a mirror. A place where people go to appear to work out than actually doing so. How very wrong these initial thoughts were.

Having partnered with the studio to provide nutrition information and inspiration, I decided to join the challenge of finishing 20 classes or more during the month of October.

Here’s how it went:

I couldn’t even complete the first class. I did not expect the extent to which this was truly a total-body, strength-training, fatiguing-little-muscles-you-didn’t-know-you-had workout. The class felt designed to break the image I had of myself as a fit person.

During the second class I realized the first one wasn’t an anomaly; this is how it was going to be. A feeling of dread, followed by determination, set in. The word ‘hazing’ came to mind as I realized mental toughness would be a key component to attending any future classes.

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Recipe: Peppermint Eggnog & Vegan Nog

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Our first eggnog experience was rather unremarkable and with concerns about foodbourne illness from raw eggs, we’ve never pursued it…until now. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tasty peppermint eggnog recipe for you which can be made safely with eggs AND we have an eggless, vegan version which is equally delicious. We love to be the bearers of joyous tidings, and this beverage is one of them.

Eggnog is technically stirred custard, very similar to ice cream.

Peppermint Eggnog

6 organic large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cups non-dairy milk (we used unsweetened almond milk, you can DIY here)
1/2 can or 6.5 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, if desired

Instructions

Whisk eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in large saucepan over low-medium heat until combined. Then pour milk in slowly while whisking to fully incorporate into mixture. Whisk ingredients over heat constantly, until thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 30 minutes.  This is an important step; should you leave the eggnog mixture to cook on its own, you’ll likely get an unappealing scrambled egg-in-milk, porridge-y mixture.

After cooking is complete, pour mixture through fine sieve over a medium bowl, cool for a few minutes, and stick in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can also do an ice-bath to help cool mixture down faster. You’ve made a custard; great job!

Remove custard from refrigerator and set aside as you put coconut milk cream in a bowl and mix well. Then fold into eggnog custard mixture until combined; fill cups with this delicious, creamy eggnog.

Option to add alcohol. To garnish beverage, sprinkle with finely crushed peppermint, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint or cinnamon sticks, or whatever strikes your festive fancy.

Vegan Peppermint Eggless Nog

The only real difference here in terms of ingredients is the fact that we’re using frozen bananas instead of eggs. Because of the natural sweetness they provide, you may want to consider decreasing the amount of maple syrup added or omit it.

4 bananas (peeled and frozen)
1/2 cup maple syrup, if desired
3 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 can or 6.5 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, if desired

Instructions

Even easier! Put all ingredients in a blender and blend it until smooth. Garnish as above with your favorites.

Besides being delicious, eggnog is quite versatile and can be added to coffee, used in making french toast, quiche, and more! We hope you enjoy these egg- and/or dairy-free versions of eggnog with your friends and family over the holidays.

Tips: Healthy Holiday Indulgence

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1. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you set your eyes upon a prepared feast. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how much food you’ll need to feel satisfied. Your surroundings, mood, stress  and hunger levels will influence your answer. Be mindful.

2. Restricting one’s self takes a lot of willpower and brainpower, which can pull focus away from enjoying a meal together and spending time with loved ones. Take time for conversation, slow down, relax, savor your food, and listen to your body’s response.

3. The holidays are marketed as ‘special’ and ‘limited time only’, which makes it so we often believe this is our only chance to eat certain foods. This causes thoughts of scarcity and deprivation, which can easily lead to over-indulging, just to ‘get it while it lasts’!  Remember, you can have these special foods again – ask for the recipe, go back for a second helping, have leftovers. This helps with staying mindful while enjoying our food and the holiday celebration.

4. Identify a few things that really make the holidays for you. For some it’s visiting  the zoo lights and hot chocolate, reading by the fire, or time with friends over a pastry and coffee. For us, the holidays come alive while baking cookies with family.  Since this isn’t something we do during the rest of the year, it’s nostalgic and has a wonderful feeling of holiday celebration. Find the special treats that are an integral part of your holiday celebrations and take the time to mindfully savor them.

5. Hosting for the holidays? It’s easy to forget to eat while cleaning the house, bathing the dog, and running errands; however, skipping meals during the day can lead to intensified food cravings and overeating at night. Remember to check in with your body often to assess hunger level and have healthy snacks or meals on hand.

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Why Krav Maga?

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What is your most precious asset?

Your life. Right?

So, you can protect it by getting proper nutrition, sleep, reducing stress, and exercising…but how about learning how to protect yourself from an outside, physical threat?

Enter Krav Maga.

Background

 Krav Maga is a self-defense system and form of physical training first developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It focuses on the use of aggressive, reflexive responses intended to neutralize threatening situations. The blend of martial arts styles encompassed by Krav Maga – including Judo, wrestling, boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu- was developed in the 1940’s by Imi Lichtenfeld.

We’ll get to our story later; first, we interviewed the owner of Buckeye Crossfit & Krav Maga, John Lovins, to get the scoop on why Krav Maga is one of the best forms of martial art for bodily protection:

Q: What is your background story? Why did you choose to become a black belt in Krav and to teach others?

I started martial arts in 1996 in Tae Kwon Do, stopped for a while then rejoined in 2001. They started teaching Krav Maga at my old School in 2004 so I thought I’d give it a try. It was an eye- opener in self-defense, where Tae Kwon Do is an old art and didn’t evolve with time. I started BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) during the same time and took muay thai.

I enjoy teaching people to protect themselves. I had a family member car jacked and killed; another family member had a gun to her face in a car-jacking only to be let go when they saw a newborn in the car. One of my former students who is a CPD came in and hugged me for showing her basic ground skills; she was suckered punched and the fight went to the ground; the bad guy kept reaching for her gun but she knew how to roll to one side from all the drills we did.

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The Great Goji Groatmeal

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National Whole Grains Month inspired us to venture more into actual whole grains (none of that ‘made-with-whole-grain’ partial credit here) in this breakfast recipe. What is an oat groat? It’s the whole grain form of oatmeal, before it is steel-cut, rolled, or pulverized into an instant oatmeal package. These oat groats are chewy and take some time to cook, which is why we called upon our trusty slow cooker to work the overnight shift.

Ingredients
2 cups oat groats
2 tablespoons chia seeds (and/or flax seeds)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
3 cups water
3 cups of non-dairy milk (i.e. DIY almond milk)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, cored and blended
1/8 cup of goji berries (or substitute with raisins)
1/3 cup cacao nibs (optional)

Instructions
Use a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Put oat groats, chia, shredded coconut, water, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and goji berries (and cacao nibs if desired) inside. Blend cored apple and add to slow cooker. Stir all ingredients and cover, cooking on low for about 8 hours (automatic slow cookers should then switch over to ‘warm’ setting). Stir and serve with additional fruit (i.e. berries), nuts, seeds, or sweetener on top and enjoy a warm belly of food to start your day!