Tag Archives: calcium

This is not a resolution

So. For the next seven days I’m going dairy-free. I am a “mostly vegetarian” with NO plans to become a vegan. However, I’m curious what, if any benefits I might get from cutting back dairy. I don’t over-consume (my cholesterol level is in the desirable range) but I am careful. My rule of cheese-thumb is no more than one ounce a day, a suggestion I once read. Left to my own devices with no repercussions I’d definitely eat more cheese as I suggested in this short and surprisingly (to me anyway) popularĀ post. And milk, yogurt, etcetera? Oh I like them very much too.

I do hear/read a lot of good things about the vegan diet and while I am not onboard I don’t think a seven-day experiment isĀ too onerous. I have miserable allergies plus tend toward winter lethargy (definitely affected by seasonal lack of daylight) and I’m simply curious if a dairy fast will help either. IF I saw some difference I might be motivated to eat less dairy but we’ll see. I have read that you’re supposed to give a vegan diet aĀ three week trial (certainly vegan advocate Dr Neal Barnard says so, sigh; he just wrote a WHOLE anti-cheese book, which I did not read). Three weeks without cheese?? Noooo. Oh, and “cheese substitutes?” Pricey of course, not buying any, not now anyway.

I think the biggest issue, for a middle-aged lady who wants to maintain her bones, is the calciumĀ  Dairy products pack lots of calcium. I DO take calcium supplements and eat other foods which have calcium, but those “other foods” are meager in their calcium comparatively speaking. Sure, broccoli has calcium but c’mon! It ain’t no dairy product in the calcium cage matches!

In preparation for a dairy-free week, last night I fixed my favorite food of all, popcorn, and added chili powder and a Mexican blend shredded cheese. Oh my. (I like to make “theme” popcorn sometimes to shake things up.)

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This is before I stirred it. I wanted you to see the lovely toppings.

 

My plan is to report back how The Week of No Dairy went in a later post.

 

NOTE: Please forgive any delay in responding to comments due to internet issues (that or I keeled over because my system went into some kind of cheese withdrawal shock).

(Everything but the) Kitchen Sink Drink

I’ve posted about healthy drinks before.Ā This one is loaded with all sorts of nutrients and it tastes really good! Generally I’ll use my Hamilton BeachĀ© “personal blender” when I’m making drinks because the “jar” (it’s plastic) doubles as a drinking cup and it’s easy to clean up after. However, if I’m going to take the trouble to add so many ingredients, I want enough to make drinks for two days so I use the standard blender. Also– I can cram more stuff into the big blender.

 

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The beauty of these drinks is you can use what you have on hand, so it’s not a specific recipe per se. The most recent information I have is that frozen fruits (and vegetables) have comparable nutrients to fresh and sometimes retain even more nutrients, as opposed to fruits & vegetables that have been driven around on trucks for days on end (before arriving shriveled at the grocery store). This drink provided, among others, protein, calcium, carbs, potassium, iron, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D. (Vitamin E, B6, Magnesium, Zinc, Folate from peanuts.)

no fat plain yogurt
water
canned pineapple
frozen strawberries, raspberries & blackberries
frozen mango
frozen cranberries (I bought them fresh on sale in the Fall and froze them)
fresh bananas
canned pumpkin
blackstrap molasses (known for iron & calcium)
brown sesame seeds (more nutritious than white, i.e., hulled ones)
quick oats
peanut butter (with only peanuts, no additives)
cocoa powder
nutritional yeast
flax seed (ground)
unsweetened shredded coconut
vanilla extract
cinnamon
chia seeds*

*A word on chia seeds. Chia seeds have been touted for the last several years as this amazing powerhouse of nutrients. They are shelf stable for a long time and don’t need to be ground before consuming as do flax seed. They have lots of fiber and calcium. That all sounded great to me till I checked out the price. They were expensive! So I pretty much blew off chia seeds – deciding I could just make do with other nutritious but less costly seeds – until recently, when I found a 15oz bag for $3. (I immediately wondered what was wrong with them.) My plan was to eat them every morning so I could get bright eyes and a shiny coat or whatever fantabulous results they offered. Basically, I wanted to go through them fast enough to see measurable results, if there are any.

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I put them in a jar for storage

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Um, let me tell you this. Chia seeds are BORING! I’ve been eating a couple teaspoons each morning and it’s not that they taste bad; they’re just uninteresting. Also, they get stuck in your teeth since they sort of start to melt once they mesh with saliva. I’ve started adding them to baked goods because after two weeks I still have half a bag. After I finish the bag, I’ll revisit this topic to let you know if I can tell any difference (in me that is).

You could certainly add veggies like kale to the drink. Maybe raw spinach. One time I added canned spinach to one of my drinks and it was disgusting.

Some nutritionists would take issue with all the sugar from the fruit, saying sugar is sugar (be it processed or from whole fruits), but I don’t think so. Fruits may have high sugar but they also have so many other things to offer.

Fruit Yogurt drink (otherwise called a “smoothie”)

Mmmm

Mmmm

I love my blender drinks and generally use the same/similar ingredients to my fake “icecream”.

I got a single serve “personal blender” for $10 and I use it all the time – the cup unscrews from the base and you drink right out of it – less dishes to wash!

It's about 1 foot tall. I use it so much the brand name wore off. Love this little guy!

It’s about 1 foot tall. I use it so much the brand name wore off. Love this little guy!

For ingredients, I usually use what’s on hand; more frozen fruits in winter and more fresh in summer. The fresh fruit drink pictured above was:

*3/4 cup water
*About 1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (also I try only to buy yogurt which says the cows aren’t treated with hormones – yep, that’s right, actual cows are involved in yogurt production!)
*Strawberries
*A banana
*Blueberries
*Unsweetened coconut
*Brown Sesame Seeds (aka unhulled)
*Blackstrap Molasses (lots of iron, some Calcium)
*About a teaspoon unsweetened peanut butter
*Ground Flax Seed
*Nutritional Yeast
*Cocoa powder
*Cinnamon

Oh man is that good!

Sesame seeds are your friends

My autocorrect turns the word sesame into seamen which sounds vaguely dirty. Who talks about seamen anyway? Why would autocorrect feel that talking about men at sea is more common than discussing small, nutritious seeds? I mean when’s the last time you ever heard anybody use seamen in a sentence?? Maybe in Alaska or fishing villages it gets more play: “The fish are running superbly this year. Let us pray the seamen return with a fine catch.”

So anyway. I want to tell you about brown seamen. Strike that; I want to tell you about brown sesame. If you’re anything like I was, you don’t give sesame seeds much thought. They are the little white things that fall off bread and collect on your plate, right? Turns out there is more to them. Turns out those little white things are hulled sesame seeds, whereas brown sesame seeds are unhulled and similar to brown rice and brown, i.e., whole wheat bread, more nutritious.

Here’s the nutrition breakdown from a bag of Bob’s Red Mill:

Fiber, Calcium, Iron, oh my!

Fiber, Calcium, Iron, oh my!

Not only are they better for you, they also taste like something, which is not generally true of white sesame seeds. Whenever I get a new product to try, I eat some plain, right out of the container. A spoonful of brown sesame seeds is dense and chewy – it takes awhile to chow down – with a somewhat nutty flavor. That said, I doubt many people eat them by the spoonful.

If you’ve ever bought sesame seeds from the spice aisle, you may have noticed they’re usually sold in a dinky container with a high price. However, buying larger portions (which I’ve found online) brings the price per pound down considerably. The way I figure, for spices, seeds, and such that I go through a lot of, it makes sense to purchase large sizes, freeze the bulk of it and pull portions out when needed to fill a small container. (For other examples, I buy big containers of cinnamon and basil because I go through both fast.)

I keep sesame seeds in the refrigerator (they should be refrigerated or frozen)

I keep sesame seeds in the refrigerator (they should be refrigerated or frozen)

So what to do with brown sesame seeds other than eat them by the spoonful? I put them into baked goods like breads and muffins, but their usefulness is not limited to people who bake. They are great additions to smoothies, blender drinks, cereals hot and cold, and homemade “icecream”. I found that once I started using them, it was easy to find foods to add them to (which is different than a nutritious additive like flax seed, say, which has bitter-ish taste and doesn’t go well with everything). There are also black sesame seeds – who knew?! – that have a nutrition profile similar to brown.