What the heck is Quinoa?

Over 3,000 years ago, high in the Andes mountains in South America, the Incas began to cultivate quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) as one of their staple crops, believing that it gave power and stamina to their warriors. This amazing super-food has been called “the gold of the Incas.” In the mid 1980s, two North Americans stumbled upon this ancient super-food and began cultivating it. Since then, quinoa’s popularity has exploded worldwide. Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, quinoa is technically a seed, and is related to spinach, chard and beets. The seeds are round, about the same size of millet or sesame seeds. Quinoa comes in a rainbow of colors, including red, purple, green, and yellow. Although, the quinoa that is most commonly found in stores is an off-white color. Look for quinoa in the bulk section of natural food stores, or in the organic section of conventional supermarkets. What makes quinoa such a healthy option is the protein it provides. The protein quality of quinoa is considered to be on par with the protein quality of dairy products. This is because quinoa, unlike most grains, includes all of the eight essential amino acids that are needed for tissue growth and repair. Not only is the “mother of all grains” high in protein, but it is also incredibly low in fat. Quinoa is high in manganese, which acts as a disease and cancer fighting antioxidant in the body. Other vital nutrients that quinoa provides are: magnesium, fiber, calcium, riboflavin, copper and potassium. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for a healthy protein source. Antioxidant phytonutrients have recently been discovered in quinoa. Two flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol, are now known to be provided by quinoa in especially concentrated amounts. In fact, the concentration of these two flavonoids in quinoa can sometimes be greater than their concentration in high-flavonoid berries like cranberries. Recent studies are providing a greatly expanded list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa. The presence of anti-inflammatory compounds in quinoa may help explain animal studies which show decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals are fed quinoa on a daily basis. Quinoa also provides small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Quinoa is gluten-free. Preparing quinoa is relatively easy and quick. Before cooking quinoa, it is important that you thoroughly wash the seeds in order to remove the saponin that coats them. Saponin can lead to a bitter taste. Usually, quinoa has been rinsed and washed before being sold, however, it is still recommended to wash it again before preparing to ensure that all of the saponin is removed. To wash the quinoa, just place it in a strainer and rince it thoroughly for a few minutes. To prepare quinoa, combine one cup rinsed quinoa to two cups water or broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds become translucent. Quinoa has a light, slightly nutty taste and a fluffy texture. Quinoa can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be used in hot breakfast cereals, chili, salads and casseroles. It can also be used to replace rice and other grains and to thicken soups. Quinoa is delicious served cold or warm and can be frozen and reheated.


Want to lose weight? Make sure you get enough sleep.

Most people do not think about their sleep habits when evaluating their health. Adequate sleep is critical when trying to lose weight, maintaining your weight and improving your overall health. Recent evidence suggests that your sleeping habits influence both your ability to lose weight and your tendency to eat more. People trying to lose weight were more likely to lose ten pounds when they slept between six and eight hours a night. People ate an average of nearly 300 calories more when they were sleep-deprived compared to when they were well rested. The calories overwhelmingly came from junk foods like ice cream and fast food. Other research found that among adults younger than 40, those who typically slept for five hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat. Another study found dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat than dieters who only got 5.5 hours of sleep. These studies only scratch the surface of the research linking your sleeping habits with your body weight. What is the connection?  It is likely the effect of altered metabolism, because when you’re sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals you are full) falls, while ghrelin (the hormone which signals you are hungry) rises. In one study, researchers found that people who slept only four hours a night for two nights experienced an 18 percent reduction in leptin and a 28 percent increase in ghrelin This combination leads to an increase in appetite. As mentioned above, people ate 300 extra calories when they were sleep-deprived. Furthermore, sleep-deprived people tend to eat more sweet and starchy foods, as opposed to vegetables and proteins.  Sleep deprived people tend to crave sugary treats such as ice cream and candy. These sugar cravings may stem from the fact that your brain is fueled by glucose (sugar); therefore, when lack of sleep occurs, your brain starts searching for carbohydrates to keep going. Increased intake of simple carbs (highly processed foods) leads to increased insulin levels and weight gain. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, and consistently give in to these sugar cravings, you will virtually guarantee weight gain. Other consequences of too little sleep include: high blood sugar levels/insulin resistance, an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, depression, accelerated aging, and an increased risk of cancer. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? If you feel well-rested and are able to wake up in the morning with no problem, you’re probably doing just fine in the sleep department. But if you’re fatigued, nodding off or yawning throughout the day, and just want to go back to bed when your alarm clock goes off in the morning, your sleep schedule may need some adjusting. Adults tend to need between six and eight hours of sleep every night. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Some people feel rested on as little as five hours a night, while others need as much as nine or ten in order to feel their best. The amount of sleep you need can also drastically change depending on circumstances. For example, most people need more sleep when feeling ill, or during emotionally stressful times. Pregnant women also typically need more sleep than usual during the first trimester. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. And don’t think you’re going to meet all of your sleep needs by sleeping in for one morning on the weekend.  Chronic lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. You cannot skimp on sleep during the weekdays, thinking you’ll “catch up” over the weekend. What’s needed is consistency, and when it comes to sleep, routine is the word. Good sleep habits are critical to your long-term health. Make sure you get a good nights sleep to improve your weight and overall health.

What is a Whole Grain?

A whole grain is the seed of a grass. Various grasses include rice, corn, wheat, rye, quinoa, and amaranth. When you eat whole grains you are eating viable seeds – you can sprout them if you wish. Each grain has four parts: the husk, bran layer, germ/embryo, and endosperm. The husk is the papery outer covering that is always removed. Grains that have only the husk removed are considered whole grains (and will still sprout if the three other layers are still intact). The outer coating of the seed is called the bran layer. It is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The germ or embryo is the part of the seed that becomes a new plant if allowed to grow. It contains protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. The endosperm is the largest part of the seed. It feeds the growing embryo if allowed to sprout. The endosperm is virtually 100 percent starchy carbohydrate and is calorie rich.  When grains are refined, the endosperm is all we are eating (the bran and germ/embryo have been removed). Breads, crackers, and most baked products are made with refined flour, even if they say “whole wheat”, “multi-grain”, or “stone ground”. Most corn products have had the germ and fiber removed. Make sure you read labels carefully.  If it’s white or has less than 3 grams of fiber per 50-gram serving, the fiber has been removed. Whole grains include barley, oats, brown and wild rice, rye, spelt, wheat/wheat berries, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and kasha. Look for these grains in any grocery store. Many times they are stored in large bins. When buying any grain product make sure there is at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Cereals should have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving (watch out for added sugar!). Explore and try different grains. Try different recipes. Eat a wide variety of grains. Be creative!

Brand New Drug Approved by FDA – Look at all the Benefits!

A brand new drug was recently FDA approved. It is being hailed as a wonder drug! It has been studied in several large randomized trials and shows clear benefit. It is quite safe and effective – there are almost no side effects. It is sure to benefit many people. Look at all the documented benefits:

* tones muscles

* increases energy

* improves your waistline and posture

* prevents loss of bone density/osteoporosis

* relieves stress

* burns calorires

* helps keep weight off

* helps to improve your mood

* improves your cognition & helps prevent memory loss/dementia

* makes you look and feel younger

* reduces risk of heart attack and stroke

* reduces blood pressure

* reduces blood pressure

What is the name of this new drug? What pharmacy will carry it? Where can I go to get a prescription?

Well, the drug we are referring to here is exercise. Twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a day will achieve most of these results. Daily physical activity is critical to our good health! Our bodies were made to move. We were not created to sit on the couch and watch TV all day long. There are no excuses. Do what you can to start out with and build up over time. Options include walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, bicycling, playing tennis or basketball, or any other activity which gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time. If a pharmaceutical company was able to put all these benefits in a pill, it would hailed as the next wonder drug of the century. It would be worth billions of dollars. It would surely be quite expensive. The good news is that exercise is available right now for everyone to participate in and it is quite cheap. Begin today, and reap all the benefits stated above. Do not waste another day!