Sunday, November 4, 2018

November is Diabetes Awareness Month®

Diabetes Awareness Month®

November is American Diabetes Month®.  The vision of the American Diabetes Association is a “life free of diabetes and all of its burdens.  Raising awareness of this ever-growing disease is one of the main efforts behind the mission of the Association.”  

Here are a few of the most recent statistics:

  • Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.  
  • Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in United States is $245 billion.
Nearly one in 10 Americans has diabetes.  There are many myths that still remain.  I hear them when I do presentations ALL the time!  I was just at a health fair for seniors a couple weeks back and that was the premise to my tabling.  I had “Fact vs Fiction” to draw the seniors to my table and help right the wrong information that circulates among people.  Because let’s face it, if your Aunt Sally told your mom and your mom told you, well then it must be true.  Am I right??  Unfortunately, this is how we get a lot of our information and/or from searching the internet.   Just remember not everything you read is true and/or reliable online (use a reliable source when it comes to your health - that's why you're here reading my blog).  So here we go, let’s set a few common myths to rest and get the facts. And p.s. - all the pictures featured will be foods that people with diabetes can eat.  It's food everyone should be eating - healthy, balanced, and in moderation, because all foods fit.  I hope you find them inspiring.  They're all my creations.  Now on to the myths!

Tomato Salad w/Homemade Ricotta

Myth:  Everyone who is overweight develops diabetes.

Fact:  Type 2 diabetes (which accounts for 90-95% of the cases) is much more common in people who are overweight.  Excess weight IS the strongest known risk factor.   Being overweight increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven-fold.  Losing 7 to 10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.  Losing any excess weight – and keeping it off – is the best defense against diabetes.  However, keep in mind that other factors play a role as well: genetics, inactivity, age, and ethnicity.  The key is to know your numbers and know your risk – prevention is key! (With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why – more on Type 1 in a separate blog post).  So while people who are overweight DO have an increased risk for developing diabetes, not ALL people who are overweight develop diabetes. 

Overnight Oats w/no added sugar.  Fruit compote - frozen berries & beets, just natural sugar
Myth:  If your fasting blood sugar is 100 to 125 (called pre-diabetes), you will develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact:  Having pre-diabetes does not mean that you will develop diabetes immediately.  The risk is there, and the key is to make lifestyle changes in order to prevent and delay it from progressing to diabetes.  The scary fact is that many people (when I used to counsel patients 1:1) would come into my office with pre-diabetes and not even know they had pre-diabetes. There are three reasons this could be the case.  The first I call the “Charlie Brown” syndrome – it’s possible their doctor did tell them and all they heard was, “wah waaah wah wah”.  The second reason is that their doctor told them they have pre-diabetes and they’re in denial and last but not least is the patient was never told by their doctor.  86 million people have pre-diabetes.  This CAN be prevented and/or delayed from progressing to diabetes.  Know your numbers.

Turning "fried" rice into vegetable "fried" rice, just look at all that kale.  It was more like sauteed rice vs fried rice btw.

Myth:  People with diabetes need to eat special food.

Fact:  The irony is that everyone should eat healthy food.  It’s no different than what I recommend to anyone, a person with diabetes or not.  As people are faced with a diagnosis of diabetes they’re simply more pressed to make immediate changes.    Healthy eating means having variety, balance, and moderation.  I teach people to limit their intake of sodium, saturated (and trans) fat, added sugars and refined grains.  I also teach people to place an emphasis on nutrient-dense foods, to increase their fiber intake, and begin to look at more whole foods and less processed (chemical enhanced) foods.  The key is to implement ONE change at a time and then move on to the next.  Healthy eating is a way of life, it’s not just a quick fix for a short period of time.

Lentils are a carbohydrate, so they do effect blood sugar.  But they have TONS of fiber which is super beneficial for blood sugar control.  Definitely a food to include.

Myth:  Eating sweets is off-limits for people with diabetes.

Fact:  Variety, balance, and moderation.  EVERYONE should limit their intake of sweets, not just people with diabetes.  Indulging in too many sweets makes it more difficult for anyone to keep off unwanted pounds and leaves less room for the nutrient-rich foods the body needs.  This is what I used to tell my patients:  you know yourself, are you the kind of person who can have a piece of chocolate or are you the type of person that will have the whole chocolate bar?  Having sweets lying around the house can only set you up to overeat if you’re the type to eat the whole chocolate bar.  The key is to allow for some of those moments with sweets and desserts, otherwise you’ll go overboard when you do see the desserts.  In people with diabetes I always try and explain that it’s important to have good blood sugar control.  Including these sugar-containing treats is possible with portion control and knowing their blood sugar levels – it’s called managing your diabetes.  I teach them that desserts are a part of life (especially as the holidays are approaching), however, desserts are not the fuel source your body needs to operate at full-strength capacity.  Always aim for the best fuel and keep the desserts in check.

Dessert - high in sugar & fat typically DO effect blood sugar.  There are ways to include desserts and still maintain good blood sugar control.  All foods can fit.  The key is definitely moderation AND frequency - and that's not just for people with diabetes.

Myth:  Fruit is a healthy food.  Therefore, it is okay to eat as much of it as you wish.

Fact:  Yes, fruit is a healthy food, but NO you cannot each as much of it as you wish (you can eat as much as you want, just keep in mind when it comes to blood sugar levels it does play a role).  Fruit does contain fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  However, fruit contains carbohydrates and therefore needs to be included as part of your meal plan, in a controlled amount.  After working at the Diabetes Research Institute, this is one change I’ve made – I’ve decreased the amount of total fruit I eat and started to increase the amount of non-starchy vegetables I’m consuming.  Tough?  Yes.  Healthier for me? Absolutely!  (p.s. Juicing, smoothie, and smoothie bowls as a trend needs to stop – the fiber is there but not functional and it tends to be a load of carbohydrates – EAT and CHEW your food.)  This is and has always been my motto – if you’re overeating fruit odds are you should try to pair it with another food group to help satiate you.  AND keep in mind that food is functional, so in the summer when you’re working outside and parched, watermelon is easy to overeat if you’re thirsty.  It is watermelon after all and helps hydrate – simply make sure to drink water and be able to identify that it is thirst that your body is trying to quench.  

Every food effects people differently.  Mango tends to be a fruit that raises blood sugar more than others.  Test, know the effect.  And of course pay attention to portion size, because mango is easy to overeat.  For everyone.

I’m always telling my patients to “know their numbers” Here’s a chart to help explain your numbers:

If you have your fasting blood sugar checked routinely for your doctor visits, the fasting blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL.  If it is above 100 mg/dL this will be an indicator to have your A1c checked.  The A1c is a blood test that runs an average over the last three months of your blood sugar level – so while your fasting blood sugar could’ve been high it doesn’t necessarily indicate your overall control.  The A1c is the best test for verification.  An A1c between 5.7-6.4% indicates pre-diabetes and an A1c at 6.5% and over is diabetes.  This November, have your A1c tested so you can know your numbers.  Knowing is the first part of prevention.  Here are a few other tips to help reduce your risk:

Sheet-pan dinners - easy to prepare & easy clean-up
Exercise moderately.  Aim for 150 minutes of exercise/week.  Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose.  This puts less stress on your insulin-making cells.  Long hours of hot, sweaty exercise aren’t necessary to reap this benefit.  Walking briskly for a half hour every day reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30 percent.  Limit the time you spend sitting at work, at home, or in between – that’s why my tracker is always buzzing trying to remind to get up and get moving every hour.

Make veggies fun & tasty so you'll want to eat them.  And please, whatever you do, do not call this a cauliflower "steak".

Tune Up Your Diet:  Making a few dietary changes can have a BIG impact on the risk of type 2 diabetes.       

  • Choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly refined carbohydrates.   
  • Whole grains don’t have a magical nutrient that fights diabetes and improves health.  It’s the entire package – elements intact and working together – that’s important.  The bran and fiber in whole grains make it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches into glucose.  This leads to lower, slower increases in blood sugar and insulin, and a lower glycemic index.  As a result, they stress the body’s insulin-making machinery less, and may help prevent type 2 diabetes.  Whole grains are also rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that may help reduce the risk of diabetes.  And don’t forget that whole grains have FIBER!  Fiber may be best known to help regulate bowel movements, but keep in mind within blood sugar control you don’t digest fiber.  The overall effect is that the fiber too helps slow down the blood sugar response – win win!
  • Skip the sugary drinks and choose water.                                                                      
  • When it comes to diabetes, sweet beverages seem to be a double-whammy.  Their high-fructose corn syrup and other sugars increase the demand for insulin and have a high glycemic load.  The sugar you sip may add flab more than the sugar you chew.  Liquid calories don’t seem to lead to satiety and the reduction in subsequent food intake that you might have with solid calories.  It’s easy to take in a large amount so easily.  Think your drink – even if a certain coffee company is coming out with their gingerbread lattes.
  • Include heart-healthy plant-based fats.                                                                            
  • The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes.  Healthy fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes.  Trans fats do just the opposite.  These unhealthy fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label.  Luckily as of June 18th, 2018 companies are no longer able to create a product that includes trans fat (and those already established with trans fat have until January 2020 to remove it completely!)  This is why so much emphasis has recently been placed on plant-based diets – the key message here is to eat more foods that come from a plant and less animal based protein (it is how the plate is distributed…we just tend to eat disproportionately, whether it’s too many carbs or too much protein)
Vary your grains and try NEW ones.  Black rice aka forbidden rice.

If You Smoke, Try to Quit                                                                                                        Smokers are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk.

Another whole grain, farro, to try and include in your repertoire.

Alcohol Now and Then May Help.                                                                                          A growing body of evidence links moderate alcohol consumption with reduced risk of heart disease. The same may be true for type 2 diabetes.  Moderate amounts of alcohol – up to a drink a day for women, up to two drinks a day for men – increases the efficiency of insulin at getting glucose inside cells.  If you already drink alcohol, the key is to keep your consumption in the moderate range, as higher amounts of alcohol could increase diabetes risk.  If you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no need to start – you can get the same benefits by losing weight, exercising, and changing your eating patterns.

Tofu, Zucchini, Tomato Salad - all foods that don't effect blood sugar.  It's important to include foods that are filling yet don't effect blood sugar.  You'll want to eat this salad.  Promise.
The bottom line to prevent type 2 diabetes:  Keep your weight – and especially your waist – under control and spend more time on your feet than on your seat.  I’m not trying to make this sound simplistic, because it’s not.  I’ve always said that I’ll keep things real here on this blog.  And true life shows that this is tough for many people.  These are lifestyle changes that we need to make.  Whether you grew up in a family that didn’t eat vegetables – hello all my Cuban families out there – or whether you just don’t like/enjoy exercise like people say you should, diabetes is a real health concern when you look at the numbers.  Keep in mind Rome wasn’t built in a day and this so-called journey towards health IS going to take time.  That’s why I always say, change ONE thing at a time and keep moving towards improvement.  You’ll be more successful long-term with your changes, which is what we’re aiming for.  If you’re looking to join a lifestyle program to help prevent pre-diabetes, leave me a message and I’ll get back to you with the information – we have two groups, one in Dade and one in Broward starting in January 2019 -and believe me, it will be life-changing. 

More veggie inspo - cucumber & avocado salad.  Eat more veggies!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Trader Joe's Haul

Trader Joe's has been in Miami for only the last five years.  And truth be told the parking situation is such a nightmare I've only been a few times (to the store in Dade county).  Seriously.   It's that bad.  Either my mother will pick me up a few items (she goes right when it opens since she lives close by) or I end up going to the Pines store (West Broward).  And it's for good reason that they're always packed.  There are deals and really good deals at that.   Check out their Fearless Flyer if you don't believe me before actually making a trek into the store.  

People always ask me for recommendations of what to buy when it comes to grocery shopping.  Grocery shopping can be a little intimidating if you're not sure what you're looking for (and you can't have a dietitian at your fingertips!)  There are quite a few temptations, so definitely try not to go when you're hungry - that is not an old wives tail.  But gone is the notion that you must shop only on the perimeter - there are many items in the aisles that are healthy and worthy of you buying.  So where does one start?  I'll take you through a little tour so to speak of a few key items that you should look out for.  Keep in mind I am not sponsored by Trader Joe's nor do I endorse any one product/brand.  These are key helpful tips for any supermarket you wish to shop at.  Although some items are only found at Trader Joe's, but I think you know what I mean.  And if I use the words of Trader Joe's themselves:

"Filling your cart won't be a problem; deciding which items make the cut could be a challenge.  Our solution?  Come back often; repeat."

I love when I first walk in to Trader Joe's and am greeted by flowers.  Flowers upon flowers.  When I lived in San Diego I used to buy flowers at the farmer's market every week.  Some people might think that it's a waste of money, but I found it to be a form of self care.  No one else was buying me flowers, so why not treat myself, right?  Not to mention they just make the day brighter.  At least for me they do.  They bring me joy just to look at them.  I get the $4 bouquet mix of flowers.  There are plenty to choose from.  Even if you don't buy flowers, it's a nice reminder to "stop and smell the roses".

I pride/challenge myself on making all things homemade.  I can make homemade pizza dough.  I just can't seem to roll it out just right.  I think that's always been my challenge with baking in general - the dough - it is sometimes hard to work with if I'm being honest (or maybe it's just me.  Ha!)  Enter the cheapest pizza dough around town.  Instead of having to make the dough and then let it rest, I buy the dough already made from Trader Joe's.  In the time I drive home it has "warmed" up and then is ready to roll out.  This gives me the practice I need - because that's what I seem to have a problem with, rolling the dough - and it's a win win, because pizza!  I always recommend this to people because who doesn't love a $1.99 pizza?  I know when you add the toppings it will cost more, but this makes pizza night a little more affordable and doable if you ask me.   

All I will say about the produce is that I haven't had the best luck.  I've heard the same from other people as well.  And by produce I'm talking the green leafy vegetables here, not all produce.  If I know I'm going to use it the same day or the following day I will buy it.  And there are some exceptions, just keep that in mind when you think you're getting such a great deal.  It's not such a great deal if you have to throw it away.

I love that Trader Joe's focuses on fruits and veggies that are in season.  I'm always eager to stop in (when parking isn't an issue) and grab some of the seasonal items that they do feature.  Again, not all their produce ripens too quickly.  There are some exceptions.  And Brussels is one of them.  This is the way they were intended to buy.  Just look at how gorgeous they are!  When I was in the store this weekend a little girl was shopping with her parents and was begging them to buy her some Brussels.  I mean, isn't that the best?  A kid begging for veggies?  They need to get that on record!  Next up...persimmons.  I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival.  

Sauces/Dips:  this area is a little overwhelming, even for me.  I typically again make my own homemade sauces, but again know that's not everybody's journey as it is mine.  So I think this section has some sauces that I would deem #dietitianapproved.  The cashew pesto is one of those very sauces.  Traditional pesto is made with parmesan cheese.  This vegan take on pesto is made with cashews and cashew butter.  Tastes phenomenal.  So if you're looking for a vegan pesto, this one is good.  The thing to keep in mind is the sodium in most of these sauces.  Where you don't have the control over how much salt you're adding in, keep that in mind with what you're combining the sauce with.  Then you can keep your overall meal lower in sodium (if that's the issue, which it sometimes is).  I've had their tzatziki as well as the Zhoug sauce (think spicy cilantro sauce).  I'm sure there are more here to try - I always say that "it's all about the sauce" - it can either make or break your meal, flavor and/or healthwise.  So, choose wisely.

I always have tofu or tempeh in my fridge.  It's a go-to plant-protein for me to have on hand.  I typically just saute it up and use with aforementioned sauces.  And I also stock up because I'm not always close to Trader Joe's.  Tofu is cheaper at both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  Publix, my main supermarket, it's almost double in price.  So, yes I always try to keep tofu in my fridge and handy.  Saves me time and money in the long-run.  

People always ask me what tempeh is.  Like tofu, tempeh is a soy-based protein.  It's made by fermenting (hello probiotics!) cooked soybeans and then forming the mixture into a firm, dense cake (if you will).  Most versions also contain beans, grains, and flavorings.  There do exist some soy-free versions that only consist of grains and other beans.  Tempeh has a strong, nutty flavor.  It tends to take on the flavor of the food or sauce that you're adding it to (similar to tofu).  If you haven't tried tempeh, here's your chance!

Just like pizza dough, I haven't had much success with homemade lentils.  Yes, I know they supposedly are the easiest bean to make.  But for whatever reason they aren't for me.  Although I will need to try them in the Instant Pot at some point and then maybe I'll have success.  In the meantime Trader Joe's is helping this girl out with pre-cooked lentils.  Yes, they're a little high in sodium but I always adjust with whatever I'm eating so the overall meal isn't too high in sodium (like I mentioned before).  These lentils have been a life-saver for me many a time.

I do wish I had a green thumb and could grow herbs.  I always use the excuse that it's so hot here in Miami that the heat kills my herbs.  Yeah, that's the story I'm sticking to.  As I've begun my journey of making all things homemade I find myself using more and more fresh herbs.  So maybe it's time to grow a few that are harder to kill (what might those be, anyone?)  In the meantime I buy my herbs when they're on sale and/or buy here at Trader Joe's.  Overall low price for high quality.

I have been buying grape tomatoes for the last little bit, because if I'm being perfectly honest, I can be lazy with grape tomatoes.  I can throw them into a salad whole - talk about easy meal prep and also no excuses not to eat a salad.  And if I'm roasting them (the two ways I eat tomatoes typically) I can roast them whole.  Again, enter lazy/convenient.  Win win if you ask me.  Also cheapest price around - the theme of why Trader Joe's parking lot is also chaos.

Cheese - what can I say?  I could go crazy in this section (and often do).  True story.  They have a merlot flavored cheese that is to die for.  Their burrata is the cheapest I've ever seen so it makes for a great excuse to have it more often.  The goat cheese is also lower priced than other places.  Yes, I do love cheese.  And at these prices I'll often get a couple of different kind (blue, feta, goat) to rotate and have in my salads.  This is also my go-to when making a cheese board as they have a few festive flavored cheeses that make it fun.  That blueberry goat cheese is addictive.  Just saying.

I rotate nuts throughout the week much as I do cheese.  But with nuts I have not only a nut butter but also the actual nuts during the day.  It's my go-to plant protein.  Not to mention I just have nuts with me at any time hunger might strike.  They say you are what you eat...  Ha ha - that's a total brotherly love joke by the way.  The nuts and the nut butters are the cheapest I have found almost anywhere - minus Costco/BJ's, but you need a membership for those so is it really cheaper?  I wouldn't know since I don't have a membership.  The only thing to keep in mind is that nuts can go rancid (go bad).  You will know by their flavor, it will taste just a little off.  I typically buy just one package of each (unless I'm baking with some and need more) and then rotate through.  Or if I end up buying one I already had I store the extra one in the freezer (where they won't go rancid).

I forgot to mention, Trader Joe's has a mixed nut butter.  I have made mine homemade (and it's genius to make the nut butter mixed with a variety of nuts.  Pure genius!) but I'll be honest it takes a lot of time to keep scraping down the bowl of your food processor.  So until it becomes a little easier, I will be buying all my nut butters.  The mixed nut butter is delicious.

I live in an area of Miami where it highlights more of the Hispanic cuisine among the aisles.  Suffice it to say polenta is not one that I can find in my general supermarket.  Anytime I stop in to Trader Joe's I pick up the pre-cooked polenta.  It's also a quick go-to meal for me.  I saute/brown the slices and serve them in a couple of different ways (with beans, tomato sauce, with cheese, etc.)

Whole grains - Trader Joe's has a variety of whole grains on hand.  And while I only took a picture of the quinoa section (white, red, tri-color) they do have farro, couscous, wild rice, whole wheat pasta, etc.  The prices in general are comparable to other grocery stores, all except the quinoa.  I can't find quinoa anywhere cheaper.  So when I go I stock up - and while I have been trying to get better about rotating my grains, quinoa is always nice to have around in case I'm making a homemade veggie "burger".  Check out the section with all the whole grains and try a new one today!

Not many supermarkets have a selection of whole grain crackers.  You obviously want to get crackers if you're making a cheese board, but just know that most crackers are not whole grain.  Trader Joe's does have a few to grab.  Here's a picture of one - and the brand Akmak is the other whole wheat cracker that they have.  I've talked about it before on the blog.

Call this a new find, but the Miyoko's brand has been around making nut "cheeses" for awhile and they are definitely delicious.  Enter now their version of a vegan "butter" - tastes quite like butter.  I've made my own version of homemade "butter" and you do need a special ingredient, soy lecithin.  If you aren't going to be making it homemade then this is a product you'll want to try.  Made with coconut oil, so there's still saturated fat, but for all my vegans out there, this product is legit.

I bake a lot.  And if you don't know what creme fraiche and Mascarpone are they are simply a better, creamier version of sour cream and cream cheese respectively.  When it comes to baking though, it's that little touch that matters when it comes to taste.  Enter the cheapest , yet flavorful, versions around.

Any supermarket's yogurt department is/can be confusing.  Let me make it a little easier for you.  Buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit.  There, wasn't that easy?  Yogurt has a lot of added sugar and/or sugar substitutes to make you think you're eating healthy, when you're really not.  The goal for anyone is to know how much added sugar you are eating in a day and begin to lower the amount that you are eating.  Which the goal would be to eat plain yogurt which is natural sugar not added sugar.  And then you can add your own fruit to make your own flavor.

Trader Joe's has been known for their "2-Buck Chuck" over the years - wine for $2.99 a bottle.  And while it does depend on the state, shipping and state regulations etc., overall it's still a low-price wine.  They have a great selection in general and most of the prices are fair and comparable.  So if you're looking for a bottle of wine and/or specialty beer, they may just have it.

As all supermarkets do, and Trader Joe's is no exception, they have a section in their store where they feature their "new" items.  It's at the end of one of their aisles, they feature  these new items and then they'll infiltrate to the regular items in the coming weeks.  Call it gimmicky or call it good salesmanship, they want you to try these new items.  I always say beware, just because it''s new doesn't mean it's healthy.  They are trying to make a sale, so be cautious - especially if you're in the store hungry!  This week they had a few pumpkin and apple features, along with a hot cocoa.  In Florida I'd say we can skip this item. Ha!

As they have a "new feature" area Trader Joe's also has a "seasonal section" area - again, kudos to their marketing department.  They have pumpkin just about everything - JoJo's (their version of an Oreo), pumpkin coffee, pumpkin tea, harvest salsa, harvest spice granola, I could go on.  I love the idea of featuring the seasonal items - pumpkin and apple are in! - just be cautious of all the things they are selling.  I'm a proponent that all foods can fit, but when it comes down to weekly shopping I'm not sure that Trader Joe's is thinking about all the added sugar in their products nor the saturated fat, etc.  Not here to be the debbie downer, but remember they are trying to make money.  How I use the seasonal section is to come up with ideas of my own I might make.  The harvest spice granola sounds like a win win to me and while I didn't check out the "added sugar' in this particular item, granola in general can have a lot of added sugar.  The key is to stay in tune with some of these health habits that you might be working on to improve.  Decreasing the amount of added sugar is a common theme these days.  I know when I make granola I always try to use half of what the recipe calls for.  It's granola, you need some amount of added sugar to be the binding agent.  Most times I can get away with using just half the amount.  The seasonal section is what I call inspiration, just make sure it doesn't derail your shopping list and/or bank account - it's easy to want to buy it all!

And last but not least, the card section.  Every card is $.99!!  Like are you kidding me?  No I am not kidding around.  While I love a nice Papyrus card, the truth is most people read the card and then after some time throw them away.  So $.99 I can handle.  I always grab a few just to have on hand for a birthday, thank you, or sympathy - they have them all.   You can thank me in advance if you didn't know that about Trader Joe's.

The other fun things I like about Trader Joe's - every time I'm there I grab a small free cup of coffee.  I love that added touch they bring.  I love coffee and I love free.  But more than that I love having the coffee while I peruse the store for those new items and/or seasonal items.  Call me a neRD but I do love it.  And the other thing I've noticed is that almost every time I'm in the store they seem to be sampling a food item and/or wine.  I think that's again a great marketing tactic to get you to buy their products.  They have a whole section in the back devoted to just that.  The day I was there they were sampling their frozen sweet potato puree.  Which leads me to what I left out on today's tour/haul:  the frozen food section.  I have perused this section many times and while there are great items to grab - think roasted corn, salmon fillets, etc.  there are also items there that are not the best - some of their prepared type items, the tarts, pizza, you name it.  Convenience is there most times when it comes to frozen items.  Again use your discretion when buying items in this section (and even their other prepared food item section for that matter).  Yes, I know time is money and some already prepared items can help in a pinch.  As I said, use your discretion.  That is all.

Planning and preparing a list of what you need to buy before going into the store is key - at Trader Joe's or any store for that matter.  We do eat with our eyes and even I've been tempted by all that Trader Joe's has.  I now know for the most part my go-to items when I shop here and I stick with that as the plan.  I wouldn't be honest if I didn't tell you that I probably bought more nuts and veggies than I needed this week - so even I fall prey to Trader Joe's marketing ways.  Or maybe I just know that I won't be back for a while and need all those nuts for upcoming baking sessions.  Either way, have a plan and stick with it.  Extra veggies and nuts isn't the worst thing in all the world.  Am I right?  Happy shopping.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

October 1st

Tomorrow is the 1st day of October.  How did that happen?  Where did September go?  For me it definitely FLEW by.  From having a busy work schedule, traveling to Virginia for a training for an upcoming Diabetes Prevention Program (more on that later), and celebrating National Yoga Month at various events, yes, September FLEW!  I'd like to say October is going to slow down but seems like it is going to be just as busy.  Although I will be taking a few days off, so there's always that to look forward to.  Ahhh yes, a little rest and relaxation.  I'm ready.

A couple of posts back I talked about using the Instant Pot®.  The first recipe I experimented with was beans.  I’ve always wanted to make homemade beans and let me just tell you, my only problem was finding enough containers to store the beans (as I put some in the freezer).  They were phenomenal and so super easy to make.  I’m not here to convince you to buy an Instant Pot® (I’m not sponsored, but if they want to sponsor me I wouldn’t say no, ha!) but I will say this, they are quite convenient because they really are all the appliances you need in one – rice cooker, pressure cooker, slow cooker, and more!  I’ve made beans, yogurt, applesauce, pork tenderloin (and I don’t even eat meat!), sweet potatoes, soup…I mean what haven’t I made??  Dessert.  Note to self, make a dessert in the Instant Pot® and soon!  Let me know if you all want to see some recipes for the Instant Pot®.  I’ll be starting a new feature on the blog, where I’ll be starting to post my own recipes.  Yep, my very own recipes.  I’ve been reading blogs and cookbooks over the years and I finally started experimenting on my own.  I’m proud to say I’ve been doing a little creating over here.  So, recipes to come.  And some of those recipes will be with the Instant Pot®.  Just let me know what other recipes you might be interested in seeing!  Thanks in advance.  

I was in Charlottesville, Virginia this past week for a training to be a lifestyle coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program.  We currently have our 2nd cohort finishing up here in Miami and we’ll be starting another cohort in Miami in 2019.  We’ll also be expanding to Broward County in 2019.  The Diabetes Prevention Program is a year long program aimed at changing lifestyle habits with both diet and exercise in order to prevent diabetes.  The original study done in the early 2000s showed a reduction in the onset of diabetes by 58% from participants losing 5-7% of their body weight combined with 150 minutes of weekly exercise.  Seems simple enough, right?  Changing lifestyle habits is hard!  If everyone knew it was this simple to help themselves prevent diabetes, don’t you think more people would be joining a program like this?  I’d like to think so.  So here’s my friendly PSA: 

If you or someone you know has prediabetes (never been diagnosed with diabetes) and is interested in joining a diabetes prevention program, message me.  I can give you more details and believe me when I tell you, it’ll be life changing. Promise.

Just a few notes about my trip to Charlottesville – I definitely have the travel bug.  Traveling lets you see new things, experience new adventures, and more importantly allows you to grow richer.  As a young child I did travel a lot with my parents.  I’ve even lived in quite a few cities.  But the one area of the United States that I haven’t traveled is the Northeast, minus New York.  I’ve always wanted to see the leaves change colors.  Even though they weren’t yet changing just yet, there were a few trees here and there that were starting to change colors.  I definitely never imagined this Florida girl in an apple orchard (I only know mango and avocado trees).  But there I was, having an actual apple cider donut from farm to table apples.  Might have been the best donut I’ve ever had.  Seriously that good.  And as for other adventures on this trip, let’s just say that every Uber ride was an adventure.  Seriously glad I had my co-worker with me, because you might not believe some of the stories if there wasn’t back-up proof.  Next trip, Denver.  Stay tuned for more adventures to come!

The PSL (pumpkin spice latte) has been out for a few weeks now and all I’ll say is can we have a little less sugar and a little more pumpkin please?  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m on a mission for people to drink LESS sugary drinks.  And while I know the PSL is released in the fall and is only here for a few weeks, hear me out when I tell you that there will be a new drink in the winter that is sugar-laden as well.  So, I don’t have a problem with the PSL per se, but I do have a problem with the frequency that people have of consuming sugar-laden drinks.  Okay, rant over, back to the actual health benefits of pumpkin (which was my reason for even starting to talk about the PSL).  

Pumpkin is a powerhouse when it comes to fiber.  One cup of canned pumpkin has 7 grams of fiber.  And while fiber may be known to help you go to the bathroom, it also helps reduce cholesterol, as well as helps you feel fuller longer.  Fiber factor.  And pumpkin has a ton. 

Pumpkin’s brilliant orange coloring comes from all the beta-carotene that pumpkin contains.  Beta-carotene is then converted to vitamin A in the body.  Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light.  A single cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

Pumpkin contains a lot of vitamin A and vitamin A helps our bodies fight infections, viruses and infectious diseases.  So, if you’re looking for a way to ward off illness and improve your immune system, try including a little pumpkin in your diet.

Beta-carotene is not only great for your eyes and skin, but you know what else?  Fighting cancer, that’s what!  Research shows that people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.  Think of vitamin A as kind of a cell defense squad.  Vitamin A is an antioxidant that acts as a shield for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals.

I’m glad the PSL brings attention to pumpkin every year.  My hope is that people start including pumpkin this time of year in other ways, ways that aren’t included with loads of sugar (and possibly fat, hello pumpkin pie).  Add some canned pumpkin to your overnight oats, roast pumpkin for a side dish, or even have pumpkin seeds as a snack.  The possibilities really are endless when it comes to adding that fall flavor to your dishes. 

And that’s a wrap September.  October I’m ready for you – birthdays, football, and Denver – let’s go!