In this issue:
- Featured Recipe: Avocado Chocolate Pudding
- Myra's Kitchen Corner: Agave the Controversial Sweetener
- Vital Choice: Naturally Healthy and Delicious Seafood and Organics
- A Note from Our Chief Nutrition Advisor: What’s The Big Deal about Gluten and Casein?
- New Nutrient Labels on Meat and Poultry
- Recommended Reading: Special Needs Kids Go Pharm-Free
Featured Recipe: Avocado Chocolate Pudding
Decadent and chocolaty, this flavorful treat gets its creaminess from avocado and it sweetness from maple syrup or agave. It's an elegant and easy way to end a delicious meal with friends and family.
Myra's Kitchen Corner: Agave the Controversial Sweetener
Agave nectar is a sweetener that comes from a number of varieties of the agave plant, the Central American plant that gives us tequila. Agave is one of the most controversial "natural" sweeteners available on the market today. You have probably heard some of the hype surrounding agave. Advertisers tell us that it is less processed than sugar, which makes it popular with people who are seeking healthy alternatives. Manufacturers are quick to point out that it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which translates to a low impact on blood sugar levels, making it potentially safer for diabetics. Agave has a sweet syrupy consistency, and a delicate flavor that many believe works well as a honey and maple syrup substitute.
Still, it is important to consider how agave nectar is produced. The syrup is most frequently made by first crushing the plants, then collecting the sap, which at this first stage is not very sweet. The sap is then heated to about 140 degrees for 36 hours before being filtered. The main carbohydrate in agave sap is a complex form of fructose called fructosan. When fructosan is heated, it is hydrolyzed, or broken into fructose units. The resulting syrup has a chemical profile of 56 to 92 percent fructose. The rest is mostly glucose. The resulting syrup, which ranges in color from dark to light amber, is considerably sweeter than sugar, about one and a half times as sweet. Even though it has the same calorie content as any other sugar, one is less likely to use as much.
Critics claim that the chemical make-up of agave sweetener differs little from that of high fructose corn syrup and that this is indeed a highly processed product. Critics point out that agave's low glycemic is due to an unusually high concentration of fructose compared to the small amount of glucose, and that nowhere in nature does this ratio occur naturally. They compare agave nectar to high fructose corn syrup, which also has a low glycemic index.
Critics point out that there are numerous problems associated with the consumption of fructose in such high concentrations as are found in concentrated sweeteners. While fructose does not cause the extreme spikes in blood sugar levels that common white table sugar does, it is associated with adverse effects on health. High concentrations of fructose cause mineral depletion, inflammation of the liver, hardening of the arteries, and an increased tendency towards insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Furthermore, high concentrations of fructose contribute to heart disease and weight gain. In order for it to be assimilated, it has to rob the body of micronutrients. Furthermore, it is processed through the liver, rather than digested in the intestines. While naturally occurring fruit sugars found in fruit contain levulose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup (and critics maintain agave is very similar to high fructose corn syrup) contains "free" (unbound) chemically-refined fructose. Research indicates that free refined fructose interferes with the heart's use of key minerals such as magnesium, copper and chromium.
Those in favor of this sweetener hold that there is a difference between natural agave, which has been harvested traditionally in Mexico for hundreds of years, and the chemically processed varieties. They point out that the agave plant contains saponins and fructans, which are phytochemicals associated with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting capabilities. One of these fructans is know as inulin, a natural plant sweetener with an extremely low impact on blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
One of the finest agave companies is Madhava, which processes the organic nectar minimally. No chemicals are used in the processing, and the sap is not cooked. The syrup is produced at low temperatures to evaporate the excess water from the juice.
Proponents of agave nectar maintain that not all agave products are created equally, and that the dangerous high-fructose content is not typical in all agave products. Perhaps a modest amount of a raw organic brand of agave is a suitable alternative to table sugar. Still, since there is a lot of misinformation on agave, common sense dictates that it is best to proceed with caution.
Substitutes for Agave
If you would like to substitute other sweeteners for agave here are some alternatives:
- Honey is a good substitute for agave in smoothies, beverages, yogurt and in other uncooked recipes.
- Maple syrup is a good substitute for agave in baked goods.
- Honey or maple syrup are good substitutes for agave in hot cereals.
Vital Choice: Naturally Healthy and Delicious Seafood and Organics Delivered Right to Your Door
We'd like to draw your attention to Vital Choice (www.vitalchoice.com.) Vital Choice is MyFoodMyHealth’s recommended source for fast, home delivery of the world's finest wild Alaskan seafood and organic fare, harvested from healthy, well-managed wild fisheries and farms. Why do we recommend Vital Choice?
• Top Quality – Vital Choice is the very best quality available and backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
• Certified Purity – By nature, Vital Choice wild fish and shellfish are free of hazardous levels of contaminants.
• Great Nutrition – Fish is rich in protein, omega-3s, vitamin D and other nutrients.
• Well-managed and Sustainable – All Vital Choice seafood comes from well-managed, sustainable wild fisheries, certified by the State of Alaska, the Marine Stewardship Council, and independent organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
10% Discount on One January Purchase from Vital Choice
Readers of the MyFoodMyHealth newsletter can enjoy a 10% discount on a single purchase placed with Vital Choice during January 2011. Use thePromo Code MFMH10 to enjoy 10% off any single purchase atwww.vitalchoice.com thru Jan. 31, 2011.
MyFoodMyHealth Recipe for Orange Balsamic Basil Marinated Salmon
Use naturally delicious Vital Choice salmon for this MyFoodMyHealth Recipe for Orange Balsamic Basil Marinated Salmon. It is deeply nourishing, easy and delicious.
A Note from Our Chief Nutrition Advisor: What’s The Big Deal about Gluten and Casein?
by Kathie Madonna Swift MS RD LDN
Gluten and casein are components of the typical American diet that some individuals with chronic health complaints may be better off without. This is most likely because gluten and casein ingestion in sensitive individuals can stimulate a cascade of events that deteriorates digestive function. Every system in the body can be affected as the fragments of gluten and casein go on a digestive rampage. The immune system and the nervous system in the gut are negatively impacted by this dietary duo which leads to a host of ailments including headaches, behavioral changes, chronic fatigue, irritable and inflammatory bowel, weight gain or weight loss and more. The good news: following an elimination diet that excludes these dietary antagonists can restore balance and optimize your health.
What are the sources of gluten and casein in the diet?
Gluten: An umbrella term for a family of proteins found in certain grains including wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and other grains/grain products that are “cross-contaminated” with gluten
Casein: One of the major proteins in milk and milk products (cow, goat and sheep)
If you think you might be gluten or casein sensitive is there an easy way to check?
Try eliminating one of the items (gluten or casein) from your diet for three weeks and then gradually re-introduce it into your diet. If you notice a difference in bodily functions and how you feel, you may be sensitive to that item.
How much time does it take to start noticing the difference from a gluten and casein free diet?
The time varies tremendously. Some people may experience noticeable differences in symptoms within days to weeks. Other people may require a mega dose of patience because they may not experience a change in their condition for months.
Want to learn more about a delicious gluten and casein free diet? My Foundation Diet is a delicious gluten and casein free elimination diet solution. Enjoy this luscious recipe for Shiitake Soup with Bean Thread Noodles and get started on the path back to robust health! Download Recipe Now
My Foundation Diet Expanded Second Edition
Now with flexitarian and vegetarian recipes & meal plans
The My Foundation Diet created by Kathie in conjunction with MyFoodMyHealth is a seasonal, delicious, whole foods approach to optimizing your health and genetic potential.
Learn more about the My Foundation Diet
Learn more about Kathie
New Nutrient Labels on Meat and Poultry
When you go to the grocery store are you confused about the fat, calories and nutrients found in your favorite cuts of meat and poultry? Help is on the way. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a new labeling rule designed to cut the confusion and help Americans make more informed and healthy choices at the grocery store when they buy meat and poultry.
Under this new rule, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will be making important nutritional information easily available to consumers on 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry products. Packages of ground or chopped meat and poultry will feature nutrition facts panels on their labels. Whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry will also have nutrition facts panels on their package labels or available at the point-of-purchase. The nutrition facts panels will include the number of calories and the grams of total fat and saturated fat a product contains. Additionally, any product listing a lean percentage statement, such as "76% lean," on its label also will list its fat percentage. This will make it easier for consumers to understand the amounts of lean protein and fat in their meat and poultry selections.
The new labeling will be required on meats beginning January 1, 2012 and should help give you concrete information you can use to make healthy food choices.
Recommended Reading: Special Needs Kids Go Pharm-Free
Nutrition-Focused Tools To Help Minimize Meds and Maximize Health and Well-Being
Written by Judy Converse, this expert guide provides parents of special-needs children practical suggestions for maximizing the impact of good nutrition to lessen the need for pharmaceuticals and help special-needs kids enjoy improved health and well-being. Suitable for children with allergies, growth and feeding problems, reflux, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, mood concerns, sensory processing disorder, and other neurodevelopmental problems, the book offers a noninvasive and holistic approach to complement existing therapies.
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