Ok, now that I know what quinoa is, how the heck do I make it??

The most popular question I have received this week is what to do with quinoa. One thing to remember is that quinoa is similar to grains such as wheat, oats, and barley. (Although, quinoa is gluten free.) See my prior post for more information on quinoa. First, cooking quinoa is easy. You will need a 2 quart pot with a tight fitting lid, and a fine mesh strainer. A good idea is to double the recipe if you want to have leftover quinoa for another meal or two. Before starting, rinse the quinoa well. Stir the quinoa with your hand, and carefully pour off the rinsing water, using a fine mesh strainer. Drain quinoa well in the strainer. Next poor the quinoa in the pot, add 1 1/2 -2 cups water per cup quinoa. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove quinoa from the heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork and serve. It is rather easy to prepare. For more flavor, you can boil in low sodium chicken or vegetable broth or stock instead of water. So what do you do now that you have prepared the quinoa? You can substitute quinoa for couscous or rice in almost any recipe/meal. This is an important point to remember. You can mix quinoa with herbs and chopped vegetables for a nice salad. Look for recipes to make soups, salads, sides & snacks. You can add chicken, shrimp, or tofu to make a meal. Quinoa burgers are tasty and easy to prepare. Be creative. Look for new recipes and explore. If you find great recipes and would like to share with others send me a copy (reply to this post) and I will post some of the best in a future article!

What Step Forward Did You Take Today?

What steps forward did you take today to improve your health? Your goal should be continuous improvement. Small steps everyday will lead to big changes over time in your health and fitness. For example, cutting 100 calories a day from your diet can lead to a 10 pound weight loss over a year. What did you do today? Did you exercise? Did you try a new vegetable? Did you try a new healthy recipe? Did you not eat that dessert? By making continual small changes, new habits over time will be formed. The goal is to develop new healthy habits that become automatic. Reading these posts are not enough! You need to use the information to make changes in your life. Go back and read old posts. Review the information. Do something today! There is nothing you can do about yesterday. It is in the past. Tomorrow is always in the future. Today is the only day you can effect right now. Action is the key. Commit to making small changes everyday. Before you know it, major changes such as weight loss or lower cholesterol levels will manifest themselves. Do not procrastinate anymore. Seize the day!

Should I Cut All Fat Out of My Diet to Lose Weight and Improve My Health?

In one word – No! Fat is an important part of your diet.  There are 3 macro-nutrients in our diet: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The majority of out diet should be carbohydrates (mostly complex, high fiber carbs).  Protein is also an important part of our diet, although most people probably eat much more than they really need. Fat is also an important part of your diet. Just like carbs though, there are good and bad fats. In fact, it is not how much fat you eat that is important, rather it is the types of fat you eat that is critical. As described in earlier posts, the two evil fats are saturated and trans-fats. Saturated fat is converted to the bad cholesterol (LDL) by the liver, which can lead to cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease). Saturated fat is found in meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and ice cream. Even worse for you are trans fats. Trans fats raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL) – a double whammy! You should avoid trans fats completely. There is no healthy amount you can consume! Look for hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils in ingredient lists for the presence of trans fats (See prior article in archive for more details). Polyunsaturated fats are the healthy fats – especially omega 3 fats. The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega 3 & 6. Omega 3 fats are found in fish (such as salmon), flaxseed, walnuts, brazil nuts, and sea vegetables. Most people get enough omega 6 fats, but not enough omega 3. Monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil and canola oil) can also be a healthy part of your diet. The key though, is to use olive oil and canola oil sparingly. Remember all oils are 100% fat. All fats have 9 calories per gram. Therefore, you need to be careful and not over eat fats (especially if you are trying to lose weight). The calories can build up quickly. Nuts and seeds can also be a healthy part of your diet. Remember though, a serving size is a handful. Again the calories can add up quickly. Add a small amount of seeds or nuts to your salads to help your body absorb important fat soluble vitamins from your vegetables. For those who do not like eating fish, fish oil pills or krill oil pills can be used instead. Flaxseed and walnuts are good sources of omega 3 for those who are vegetarian. In conclusion, make sure you avoid saturated and trans-fats in your diet. They lead to disease. Eat a balance and variety of polunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for good health. Just watch your calories!