Sunday, February 24, 2013

Food Facts: LOVEGRASS, aka TEFF

I have come across a new grain: TEFF
Looking for some variety in your diet? 
Want to add some some good whole grain goodness?
How about some protein?
Hey runners, how about adding some food traditionally eaten by elite Ethiopian runners, such as Olympic Gold medal winner, Halle Gebrelassie and Kenenisa Bekele, who by the way, also holds the current 5,000 and 10,000 meter world record!
Well, look no further because Teff is making a comeback!

Teff is eaten throughout Ethiopia, India and Australia. And even though it is considered the world's smallest grain, it's really a seed from an annual grass, called Lovegrass. It's so small that even it's name, originating in Ethiopia, means "lost". 

Okay, Teff, where'd you go?
Each grain is about 1/150th the size of a wheat kernel! And for those of you who are looking to add some fiber to your diet, all varieties of Teff - red, brown, and white - are considered a whole grain 'cause they're just too small to hull! And this is not just any fiber, it's resistant fiber, which has been shown to not only help manage blood sugar and metabolize fat, but also increase satiety, so you feel fuller, longer, aiding in weight control and less fat accumulation!

Teff is the principle source of nutrition for over two-thirds of Ethiopians, providing two-thirds of their protein! Yup, that's right. Teff is packed with some awesome nutrients, and protein is high on the list.
The protein in Teff is so readily available and easily digestible, 
it is considered the grain version of an egg!
Teff provides 10 grams of protein per cooked cup, 
and contains all 8 essential amino acids! 
It gets even better: it is especially high in Lysine, which is ideal for athletes who need to maintain muscle tissue ...ehem, like runners!!!
Kenenisa, you got it going on!
Teff leads the grains in calcium - just 1 cup cooked Teff can provide 123 mg of calcium. We all know we need calcium to help maintain strong bones and teeth (and prevent osteoporosis, ladies) , but did you know that calcium helps keep the heart, nerves and muscles healthy, too?
Teff is also a good source of iron and B1, 
needed for energy and healthy red blood cells!

Teff is so versatile, too. It can be eaten like a porridge, polenta, a side dish, or used as "flour" for bread, pancakes, or to make the flatbread traditionally eaten in Ethiopia.
Remember I said that Teff is a seed, and not a true grain?
Well, good news: That makes it gluten-free, too!

The white varieties have a little milder taste, while the darker varieties have a little more earthy and nutty flavor.
Let me know if you already eat Teff - 
Maybe you have a favorite recipe? 
Share it, here.
add a little variety to your diet,
get yourself some Teff,
Train Smart Today!

Friday, February 22, 2013

She's a Brick House!

There is some irony in the fact that as I pulled out of my driveway, yesterday, to take on my first nutrition internship interview, the radio was playing, The Commodores, "She's a Brick House".

And that I was ...
Mighty, mighty, letting it all hang out!
Not, of course, in the sense intended by the lyrics sang by The Commodores.
In the sense that I had a short amount of time to let two people,
 who hold my future in their hands, 
know what I've been up to for the last, 
well, say,

To say this week was hectic would be an understatement. It all started when I was given an opportunity to write four reports that would provide the research and background for a Sports Nutritionist that I intern for. I took on the opportunity, knowing very well that this week, I had to write three reports, one PowerPoint, and study for two quizzes. I had 10 hours of sleep between Friday to Monday. Did I mention that I also went to my sons wrestling quad (Mini-man won all three matches!), my nieces cheerleading competition (Yes, it was first place for her team, too), and attended a parent meeting for the Paper Mill Playhouse Show Choir, of which my daughter was accepted, (she is one of 40, after 300 people auditioned).
I really pushed my limits this week.
My training suffered.
It didn't help that it was windy, rainy, sleeting, and dropped into the low 20's*F.
And I haven't even kept up with my favorite blog readings! I miss the happenings in everyone's lives. It is amazing, how you all have become my inspiration, and at times, my mentors, mirroring similar issues that I have had, or am dealing with, as a mom, an employee, and as a runner.
Well, I have to run off to volunteer as a diet clerk, so this is a short blog note, 
but if you have time, 
let me know, 
as a runner, a spouse, a parent, an employee,
How do you let it all hang out?
And what do you do, when your training suffers?

Train Smart Today!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Food Facts: Barley

On Fridays, I volunteer at a rehabilitation hospital.
You go girl!
I'm basically a diet clerk, in the Nutrition Department. I read the patient's nutrition prescription, and work with them to see that they complete their menu's on time. Patients who need help are so appreciative when they get help - they're so nice to work with. Some patients need help because they can't use their arms or hands - maybe they've suffered a stroke, are diabetic and are recovering from an amputation, or have some sort of head trauma due to a serious accident &/or an operation.

Each day, patients choose meals, for the following day. Today, I noticed on a few menu's that beef barley soup was being offered. I'm not crazy about the beef soups, but I love barley. Back in college, on those cold winter days, I used to make myself hot barley cereal with some cinnamon, brown sugar and a little apple sauce. When I was helping the patients today, every time I read that beef barley soup menu item, I would think, "Why haven't I made barley must be years!"
Did you know that February's Grain of the Month,
(according to the Whole Grains Council)
is barley?

Yeah, I know, it's barley ...who cares? Ever since the oat and the oat bran craze of the late 1980's and early 1990's, barley hasn't been taken so cereal, I mean serious. Now with quinoa on the scene, forget it ...barley's days of getting respect, like it did back in the 14th century, are long gone!
Sorry barley, even though you were all that in 1324, 
when Edward II of England used 3 grains of dry barley to standardized the inch, 
you're as good as a dismissed US Colonel, I mean kernel.
I don't like some PowerPoints either,
Army Col. Lawrence Selin
Health-wise, barley is a great grain to add to the diet. Barley has the highest fiber of all the whole grains (17% fiber compared to 12% in whole wheat)! It's not just that barley is high in fiber, it's the type of fiber found in barley that makes it special. Barley is a great source of soluble beta-glucan fiber, which helps to:
Reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol, and so the risk of heart disease,
Control blood sugar, a good to know with diabetes on the rise,
Improve immune system functions,
Provide a great source of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals,
Promote satiety, which is great if you're watching your weight!

Some research has even shown that barley is radio-protective, which means it can help bodies stand up better against chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments.

How can you tell if you're getting the full benefits when eating barley? Look for hulled barley (slow to cook) or hull-less barley (a bit faster to cook). Pearl barley is not really a whole grain, but it's better than the fully processed and refined barley.

Barley can be easily used to break up the monotony of eating rice, pasta or the ultra-hip, quinoa. Check out these great recipes: Click Here.
So, do you like barley?
Or is it a grain that you don't even consider eating/cooking these days?
Got a favorite recipe using barley? 
Share here, please, 
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Getting un-stuck

Don't you just hate that inner voice, sometimes?
You know ...the one that wants to keep you down? 
No matter how many times you review all the good things in your life, you get stuck ...sucked into  listening to all those little put-downs, inside your own head. It's like you become your own worst enemy!
Maybe it starts with something that happens, that's not so great, or maybe it's a series of some not so great things that happen ...and you're off ...set on a train ride full of negative thoughts.
They rock your confidence,
Make you question everything you do 
have ever done.
Aaaagh! I hate when I get stuck.
It's been so absolutely crazy here. Once again, I am stealing hours from my sleep to get everything done: laundry, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, reading, studying, reaching out to a sick relative, and a neighbor, who lost someone special in their life. Thanking everyone who supports me in my effort to get accepted into an RD Internship, making sure my daughter has all her college information, and auditions lined up and making sure I'm there for both children - because you never want to feel you are there for one more than the other! Running over to the Cerebral Palsy Center after classes to support my daughter's volunteer performance as Ursula in Teens on Tour production of The Little Mermaid, volunteering in some capacity in the local performance of The Wizard of Oz, where Girlfriend is starring as Dorothy, and making sure I don't miss any of mini-man's wrestling - which I blinked last night, and missed him pin someone in 9seconds!
And let's not forget to fit in all the fun stuff: 
Like running, stretching, foam rolling, and strength training to avoid injury, besides icing in recovery mode, and planning appointments to see the chiropractor(s) to alleviate the damage you did to muscles the last time you were in this spot and had no time to breathe!
Then, in the middle of it ...
that creepy inner voice.
It always knows when to prey on you - when you're very tired, cranky, and can't see relief in site. Next, all it takes is for someone or some people to let you down, say the wrong thing, and there you are - questioning everything and everyone around you. Only to become so overwhelmed that you just wind up saying,
"You know, I really just can't give a cr@p!"
I mean, maybe I shouldn't. 
But would this make me self-centered? Traveling on a path set forward dominated by my own agenda, regardless of what others around me think or need? I hate feeling out of balance - you know, when you get stuck?
Because that's when, that inner voice comes ...
Ready to stalk!
I really can't wait to run my long run on Sunday. I know it will absolutely help me. 
I will reflect, pray and just try to gain back a kinder perspective on life.

What do you do when you get stuck?

Train Smart Today!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Food Facts Friday: Almond Lover!

I <3 Almonds!
Way back when ....when I was about eleven, my uncle became very sick with cancer. Back in those days, when they treated people with radiation, they used such high levels that it destroyed a good deal of soft tissue  - so not only was my poor uncle trying to fight cancer, he was also suffering with radiation burns to his esophagus. With a raspy voice, he tried to squeeze out some words, "Little Half-Crazed, you gotta eat almonds. They're good for you. They will help you fight cancer cells, so you stay healthy." God love him. Uncle Russ also made me promise to never, ever smoke cigarettes - it's a promise I am so proud to say that I have kept!

Since that day, I was impacted by the idea that there was a food-body-health connection. It was my earliest memory of looking at food as Hippocrates did:
 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food'

Health wise, there are lots of great facts about almonds, but 
here are some fun facts:
Ancient Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm!
California produces 80% of the World's Almond supply! 
Chocolate manufacturers use about 40% of the world's almonds!
Almond is one of two nuts mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11) - the other is pastachio!

Almonds are jam packed nutrition - they are actually the most nutrient dense tree nut! Ounce for ounce, compared to other tree nuts, they are the highest in ...
Protein (great for muscles), 
Fiber (great pre-biotic food), 
Calcium (great for bones), 
Vitamin E (a great antioxidant), 
Riboflavin & Niacin (energy packed B vitamins)
And 1 oz has about the same amount of polyphenols as 1cup green tea or ½ cup steamed broccoli!
They are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and actually touted as a nut that may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease because the fat in almonds is the heart healthy unsaturated fat kind. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) has certified almonds to display the Heart-Check mark for heart healthy foods  
AHA Heart-Check Mark

What's your favorite nut?
What's your favorite recipe with almonds in them?
I love tossing them into beet and feta cheese salad with a little balsamic dressing!

So, have about a handful of almonds, 
about 23 = 1oz, 
which is only is about 170 calories,
Train Smart Today!