Ancient Grains – Why Bother?

Ancient Grains – Why Bother
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We eat a lot of wheat—pounds and pounds a year per person, mostly in the form of bread, pasta and pizza. Another favourite grain, of course, is rice. In recent years, many “ancient grains”—sometimes called heritage grains or hyped as super grains— have been rediscovered but remain much less familiar. Some (such as farro) are types of wheat or are related to wheat; others are technically seeds (quinoa) but are often referred to as grains, since they are cooked and eaten like cereal grains. All are worth trying because, by and large, they’re more nutritious than the more common grains, plus they add variety to your diet.

The grains described below are good, sometimes excellent, sources of protein and fibre. They also provide minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, along with phenols (antioxidants) and other potentially beneficial compounds; some are rich in vitamin E and B vitamins. In contrast to most of the wheat and rice we eat, these grains tend to come in their “whole” form, with their bran, germ and endosperm intact, which makes them more nutritious, just as whole wheat and brown rice are more nutritious than their refined counterparts. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, another advantage is that several of these grains—including amaranth, quinoa and teff—are gluten free. A downside is their higher cost.

You can prepare these grains as salads or use them in soups and stews (just boil as you would rice). Some, such as amaranth, teff and wheat berries, cook up well as hot cereals. You can also substitute their flours for wheat flour to increase the nutritional value of breads, muffins and other baked goods. An increasing number of packaged foods— breakfast cereals, pastas, breads and pancake mixes—contain these interesting grains, too, though sometimes in small amounts.

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Amaranth. – gluten free, protein, calcium.
Native to both Mesoamerica and the Andes and a major food crop of the Aztecs and Incas, respectively, this tiny grain resembles fine couscous and has a nutty, sometimes peppery, flavor. Popped amaranth is a popular street snack in South America. For a grain, it’s relatively rich in calcium—with about 60 milligrams per 4 ounces, cooked. Because amaranth (like quinoa, see below) contains a good balance of essential amino acids and is particularly high in lysine, it is considered more of a “complete” protein than most grains (and plant foods in general).
Amaranth is almost always whole, since the grains are too small to easily refine. Be sure not to overcook it since it will become sticky.

Farro (or emmer wheat).
Also called Pharaoh’s wheat, this chewy, nutty-tasting grain is a relative of modern wheat that originated in Egypt thousands of years ago. It’s said to have been widely consumed by the Roman legions, and in Italy today it’s a common ingredient in soups and is used as a substitute for arborio rice in risotto dishes (called farrotto). Many pasta lovers prefer pasta made from farro to pasta made from durum wheat. Look for “whole farro” on labels; if it’s “pearled,” it’s not a whole grain because the bran has been removed.

Freekeh (or farik).
Common in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, freekeh refers to a harvesting process rather than an actual grain. The grain, typically wheat, is harvested when it is young, yellow, and soft—at its peak nutrition—and then roasted. Similar in texture to bulgur, it tends to have a smoky, nutty flavor. Though freekeh is being billed as the hottest new ancient grain, it’s still not widely available in stores. You might find it in Middle Eastern or other specialty markets; it’s also sold online.

Quinoa (keen-nyeewah) Gluten free, protein.
Called the “mother of all grains” by the Incas, who considered it sacred, quinoa from the Andes is known for being rich in high-quality protein. There are over 120 varieties, in many different colors. Pale yellow quinoa is most common, though red quinoa contains significantly more phenols and has higher antioxidant activity. Quinoa cooks up fluffy with a nutty flavor. Because the seeds are naturally coated with bitter compounds (saponins, which defend against insects), they must be washed before cooking. Even if the package says the seeds were washed, it’s a good idea to rinse them to remove any remaining bitterness. Kañiwa (kah-nyeewah), quinoa’s smaller and lesser-known red cousin, doesn’t need to be rinsed before cooking because it doesn’t have the bitter compounds.

Teff. Gluten Free. Calcium.
Originating in Ethiopia more than 2,500 years ago, teff (sometimes called taf) remains a staple there, where it’s mostly used to make a spongy sourdough bread. It is one of the smallest grains in the world—so tiny (like poppy seeds) that its bran germ, and endosperm cannot be separated, so it can be consumed only as a whole grain.
According to the Whole Grains Council, there are about 3,000 teff grains in just one gram (1/28th of an ounce). Like amaranth, teff has about 60 milligrams of calcium per four ounces, cooked. Teff is slightly sweet, with white varieties mildest in flavour; darker varieties taste earthier, even chocolate-like.

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Wheat berries.
These are the whole kernels of the wheat plant, from which all wheat products, including wheat flour, are made; only the inedible outer husks are removed. Available in red and white varieties, they resemble short-grain brown rice. When boiled, they have a chewy texture and nutty flavor. Since they are the least processed form of wheat, wheat berries can be even richer in nutrients and fibre than whole-wheat flour. That’s because the processing of whole-wheat flour, even if less extreme than for refined wheat flour, can still degrade some of the kernels’ healthful components.

Are They SUPER?
Labeling these grains as “super”—the latest trend—is over stating their place in a healthy diet. I tend not to label any clean food a ‘Super-food’ we all need a wide variety of foods for health. All whole grains are healthful, each in its own way. Besides the ones listed here, there are other healthful options, including barley (a cereal grain that helps lower blood cholesterol), spelt (an ancient wheat species), millet (a food staple in Africa and Asia), buckwheat (not related to wheat), khorasan wheat (Kamut is the registered brand name) and a variety of pigmented rices, such as Thai black rice (which get their dark colours from antioxidants called anthocyanins). If your regular supermarket doesn’t carry them, look for them at health food stores, specialty markets and on the Internet.

There are many recipe ideas for exchanging modern, processed, nutrient sparse grains with these nutrient dense, unprocessed, whole, ancient alternatives.

Eat Clean. Stay Active. Feel Great

Jax.

Soy Friend Or Foe? Shocking Facts….

Are Soy Milk, Soy Protein, Tofu, and other Soybean-Based Foods Good For You? Or are They Just Making You Fat and Un-healthy?

A look into some of the possible dangers and negative effects on your health of eating too much soy — Can soy even increase belly fat? I wanted to include this article because every day I see so many people that don’t realize that soy is NOT A HEALTH FOOD! Most people have been deceived and mislead by billions of dollars of advertising that soy protein, soy milk, soybean oil, and processed soy foods are “healthy”… when the truth is that soy has many anti-nutrients and negative factors on the body that we should be concerned about. In fact, there is evidence that soy foods could possibly even INCREASE YOUR STOMACH FAT if you eat too much soy or too often. The Dark Side of Soy READ THIS IS MIGHT MAKE YOU CHANGE YOUR VIEW OF SOY PRODUCTS….

Only a few decades ago, unfermented soybean foods were considered unfit to eat – even in Asia. These days, people all over the world have been fooled into thinking that unfermented soy foods like soymilk and soy protein are somehow “health foods”. If they only knew the real truth! The soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques, some time during the Chou Dynasty. The first soy foods were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce. At a later date, possibly in the 2nd century BC, Chinese scientists discovered that a puree of cooked soybeans could be precipitated with calcium sulfate or magnesium sulfate (plaster of Paris or Epsom salts) to make a smooth, pale curd – tofu or bean curd. The use of fermented and precipitated soy products soon spread to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan and Indonesia. Growth-depressant compounds are deactivated during the process of fermentation, so once the Chinese discovered how to ferment the soybean, they began to incorporate soy foods into their diets.

The Chinese NEVER ate large amounts of unfermented soy foods or soymilk

The Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes such as lentils because the soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins or “antinutrients”.

First among them are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes vital for protein digestion. These inhibitors are large, tightly folded proteins that are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking. They can produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.

Soybeans also contain haemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. Trypsin inhibitors and haemagglutinin are growth inhibitors. Weaned rats fed soy containing these antinutrients fail to grow normally.

Soy also contains goitrogens – substances that depress thyroid function. Although soy has been known to suppress thyroid function for over 60 years, and although scientists have identified the goitrogenic component of soy as the so-called “beneficial isoflavones”, the industry insists that soy depresses thyroid function only in the absence of iodine. The University of Alabama at Birmingham reports a case in which consumption of a soy protein dietary supplement decreased the absorption of thyroxine. The patient had undergone thyroid surgery and needed to take thyroid hormone. Higher oral doses of thyroid hormone were needed when she consumed soy — she presumably used iodized salt so iodine intake did not prevent the goitrogenic effects of soy. A very large percentage of soy is genetically modified and it also has one of the highest percentages of contamination by pesticides of any of our foods.

Soybeans are high in phytic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds. Phytic acid is a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals – calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc – in the intestinal tract. The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume that has been studied, and the phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking. Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans. When precipitated soy products like tofu are consumed with meat, the mineral-blocking effects of the phytates are reduced.

The Japanese traditionally eat a small amount of tofu or miso as part of a mineral-rich fish broth, followed by a serving of meat or fish. People who substitute tofu or bean curd for meat can get severe mineral deficiencies Vegetarians who consume tofu and bean curd as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral deficiencies. The results of calcium, magnesium and iron deficiency are well known; those of zinc are less well known, but equally as bad.

Far far more healthy is to eat pure grass fed meats, cheese, and butter all high in nutrients and protein rich. Zinc is called the intelligence mineral because it is needed for optimal development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. It plays a role in protein synthesis and collagen formation; it is involved in the blood-sugar control mechanism and thus protects against diabetes; it is needed for a healthy reproductive system. Grass fed beef is very high in this necessary nutrient, in contrast to soy.

Soy processors have worked hard to get these anti-nutrients out of the finished soy product, particularly soy protein isolate (SPI) which is the key ingredient in most soy foods that imitate meat and dairy products, including baby formulas and some brands of soy milk. Soy Protein Isolate is an Industrially Produced Food — Far from Natural or Healthy! SPI is not something you can make in your own kitchen. Production takes place in industrial factories where a slurry of soy beans is first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fibre, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution. Acid washing in aluminium tanks leaches high levels of aluminium into the final product. The resultant curds are spray – dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final indignity to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein (TVP).

Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray drying, and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing. In feeding experiments, the use of SPI increased requirements for vitamins E, K, D and B12 and created deficiency symptoms of calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption; test animals fed SPI develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver. Yet soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein (TVP) are used extensively in ready meals, convenience foods, commercial baked goods, diet beverages and fast food products. They are heavily promoted in third world countries and form the basis of many food give-away programs.

Soy Protein Isolate was once considered a waste product (before they discovered they could make money promoting it as health food!) Advances in technology make it possible to produce isolated soy protein from what was once considered a waste product – the defatted, high-protein soy chips – and then transform something that looks and smells terrible into products that can be consumed by human beings. Flavourings, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers and synthetic nutrients have turned soy protein isolate, the food processors’ ugly duckling, into a new age swan. “The quickest way to gain product acceptability in the less affluent society,” said an industry spokesman, “is to have the product consumed on its own merit in a more affluent society.”

So soy is now sold to the upscale consumer, not as a cheap, poverty food but as a miracle substance that will prevent heart disease and cancer, whisk away hot flushes, build strong bones and keep us forever young. Or so they want you to believe! The appropriate government bodies have duly demonised the competition -meat, milk, cheese, butter and eggs -. Soy serves as meat and milk for a new generation of virtuous vegetarians.  In the USA the soy industry hired Norman Robert Associates, a public relations firm, to get more soy products onto school menus. The USDA responded with a proposal to scrap the 30 per cent limit for soy in school lunches. The ‘NuMenu’ program would allow unlimited use of soy in student meals. With soy added to hamburgers, tacos and lasagne, dieticians can get the total fat content below 30 per cent of calories, thereby conforming to government dictates. With the soy-enhanced food items, students are receiving better servings of nutrients and less cholesterol and fat, so says the soy industry. We now know this to be a negative, rather than positive addition to their food supply.

You’ve been deceived into thinking Soy Milk is healthy Soymilk has posted the biggest gains, soaring from $2 million in 1980 to $300 million in the US last year. Recent advances in processing have transformed the grey, thin, bitter, beany-tasting Asian beverage into a product that Western consumers will accept – one that tastes like a milkshake, but without the “guilt”… they claim. The long and demanding road to FDA approval actually took a few unexpected turns. The original petition, submitted by Protein Technology International, requested a health claim for isoflavones, the estrogen-like compounds found plentifully in soybeans, based on assertions that only soy protein that has been processed in a manner in which isoflavones are retained will result in cholesterol lowering. In 1998, the FDA made the unprecedented move of rewriting PTI’s petition, removing any reference to the phytoestrogens and substituting a claim for soy protein – a move that was in direct contradiction to the agency’s regulations. The FDA is authorized to make rulings only on substances presented by petition.

Are soy isoflavones actually toxic? The abrupt change in direction was no doubt due to the fact that a number of researchers, including scientists employed by the US Government, submitted documents indicating that isoflavones are toxic. The FDA had also received, early in 1998, the final British Government report on phyto-estrogens, which failed to find much evidence of benefit and warned against potential adverse effects. Even with the change to soy protein isolate, FDA bureaucrats engaged in the rigorous approval process were forced to deal nimbly with concerns about mineral blocking effects, enzyme inhibitors, goitrogenicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems and increased allergic reactions from consumption of soy products. One of the strongest letters of protest came from Dr Dan Sheehan and Dr Daniel Doerge, government researchers at the National Centre for Toxicological Research. Their pleas for warning labels were dismissed as unwarranted.

Research that ties soy to positive effects on cholesterol levels is incredibly immature, said Ronald M. Krauss, MD, head of the Molecular Medical Research Program and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He might have added that studies in which cholesterol levels were lowered through either diet or drugs have consistently resulted in a greater number of deaths in the treatment groups than in controls – deaths from stroke, cancer, intestinal disorders, accident and suicide. Cholesterol-lowering measures in the US have fuelled a $60 billion per year cholesterol-lowering industry but have not saved us from the ravages of heart disease. The health risks of soy are finally becoming known in the media The media have not only questioned the health benefits of soy but begun reporting on the risks. In July, the Israeli Health Ministry warned that babies should not receive soy formula, that children should eat soy no more than once per day to a maximum of three times per week and that adults should exercise caution because of increased risk of breast cancer and adverse effects on fertility. The Ministry based its advice upon the conclusions reached by a 13-member committee of nutritionists, oncologists, paediatricians and other specialists who spent more than year examining the evidence. They concluded that the estrogen-like plant hormones in soy can cause adverse effects on the human body and strongly urged consumers to minimize their consumption of soy foods until absolute safety has been proven. Soy has the potential to disrupt the digestive, immune and neuroendocrine systems of the human body and its role in rising rates of infertility, hypothyroidism and some types of cancer including thyroid and pancreatic cancers.

Soy is also highly allergenic.

Most experts now place soy protein among the top eight allergens of all foods, and some rate it in the top six or even top four. Allergic reactions to soy are increasingly common, ranging from mild to life threatening, and some fatalities have been reported.

People are finally starting to learn that soy is NOT a miracle health food, and more and more expert scientists are issuing warnings about soy. I hope this article has convinced you to consider reducing or eliminating your consumption of soy foods, soymilk, or soy protein.

Fermented soy such as tempeh, natto, and miso are ok on occasion and in moderation.

Interesting stuff – Eh?….

Which Sweeteners?

Which Sweetener to Use?
Written by Tanya|July 10, 2011|23

Article courtesy of the Feingold Association of the United States

There’s so much we don’t know about sweeteners, but the Association does have the accumulated experience of many thousands of families. Combining experience with what we do know, here’s a suggested guideline for choosing sweeteners:
Acceptable choices
The following are healthy choices:
· Sugar – granulated, confectioner’s, or brown
· Cane sugar crystals
· Turbinado and various raw sugars
· Honey, Molasses, Pure maple syrup
· Rice syrup and similar syrups
· Stevia (an herbal no-calorie sweetener found in the supplements section of your supermarket or a health food store)
Acceptable, but don’t overdo
When a sugar name ends in “ol” that means it is an alcohol sugar. Too much has a laxative effect.
· Sorbitol
· Mannitol
· Xylitol
· Hydrogenated starches
Less desirable
· Corn syrup, corn sweeteners, dextrose
· High fructose corn syrup
Questionable
· Acesulfame-k (Sunett, Sweet One)
· D-tagatose (Naturlose)
Do not use
· Aspartame(NutraSweet, Equal)
o Neotame
o Alitame
· Cyclamate
· Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low),
· Sucralose (Splenda)

Natural Ways To Deflate A Bloated Belly

Natural ways to deflate a bloated belly
Abdominal bloating is an extremely common and annoying complaint. You can start out with a relatively flat tummy in the morning, but as the day progresses, you can watch your abdomen expand. This kind of bloating makes your pants or skirt progressively tighter in the afternoon, and spoils your party dress in the evening.
Occasionally abdominal bloating can be caused by a serious condition, such as liver disease or heart disease, or it could even be an early warning sign of ovarian cancer. However in the majority of cases a bloated tummy is merely a result of poor digestion and/or inappropriate food choices.
Here are 5 ways to overcome a bloated belly:
· Avoid constipation
This is a common cause of bloating. Constipation is usually caused by a diet that is lacking water or fiber, or both. Grains are a good source of fibre but not everyone eats a lot of grains; either because they have an intolerance to gluten or wheat, or because they are following a low carbohydrate diet in order to lose weight.
Luckily vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes are all an excellent source of fiber. If you are still prone to constipation despite an abundance of these foods in your diet, you could try adding freshly ground flaxseeds to your diet, psyllium, rice bran, soy bran or slippery elm. Magnesium is excellent for constipation because it relaxes the muscles of the intestines. For this reason magnesium is excellent for people who get constipated when they are stressed or traveling.
Exercise is also excellent for keeping regular bowel habits because it promotes bowel contractions. If you have long standing digestive troubles, you may benefit from a Colon Detox.
· Find out if you have an allergy or intolerance
Eating a food that does not agree with you is the quickest way to become bloated. The most common offending foods are dairy products, wheat, gluten, soy and eggs. Any food has the potential to cause a problem though. Trying to find the problem food on your own can be like finding your way through a maze, therefore we recommend you see a naturopath or nutritionist to guide you through an elimination diet.
· Avoid bubbly drinks and bubble gum
Carbonated drinks can cause gas to become trapped in your belly, leading to bloating and discomfort. Plain water or water with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice in it is kinder to your stomach. Peppermint tea is excellent for bloating and abdominal cramps.
Chewing gum is a reliable way to swallow a lot of air, which can cause bloating. Snack on something healthy like fruit and nuts if you are hungry. If chewing gum is a nervous habit, find ways to wind down and calm down.
· Slow down and eat less
Bolting your food is a sure way to become bloated and uncomfortable. If you eat quickly you will not chew thoroughly. That means large pieces of food in your stomach and intestines won’t be digested properly; instead they will become food for bad bacteria, yeast and fungi, which produce gasses that cause bloating. Ideally you would eat in a calm and relaxed manner. Try not to eat huge meals, particularly in the evening. As well as causing bloating, it will affect the quality of your sleep.
· Limit gas forming foods
Beans and lentils have a reputation for causing gas, and if you don’t eat them regularly they can be particularly problematic. Eating small quantities frequently enables your digestive system to adapt. However, some people can never digest these foods well no matter what they do. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower can be problematic also, so try not to eat too many foods from this family at the one time, and particularly not if you hope to slip into a tight dress in the evening.
Artificial sweeteners can cause bloating and so can some natural sugar alternatives. It is essential to avoid the artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame K and sucralose because they can cause health problems far worse than bloating. Some natural sugar alternatives can cause bloating if consumed in large quantities; they include xylitol, erythritol and mannitol. Stevia is a sugar substitute that does not cause any digestive distress.

Learn To Read Labels

Learn to Read Labels
(Or Just Scan Them!)
I found this interesting article from the US while researching Liver Detox – I have checked the apps listed – some look very useful.
The more I learn about food and nutrition, the more I gravitate to natural foods and local growers. But to some extent, there’s no getting around the corporate grocery store. Recently, my husband checked the fine print of our favorite yogurt … the label claims it’s organic and natural, but a closer look revealed that it contained aspartame. Yep, and yuck! We tossed the entire batch and went on a new search for an aspartame-free yogurt. These days, it’s tough to know what products carry the synthetic sweetener. Aspartame is marketed as aspartame, NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, Naturtaste, E951, Canderel and Benevia and just 951 in New Zealand. And because the patent on aspartame has expired, it is now in all types of products using their own private names. For example, recently Ajinomoto, one of the producers of aspartame rebranded aspartame with the name AminoSweet. And sometimes, the powers that be simply put “contains phenylalanine.” Although the law doesn’t require the disclosure of aspartame, it does requires a PKU warning for phenylketonurics who cannot metabolize the phenylalanine in aspartame. If you see phenylalanine, that’s basically a synonym for aspartame. Honestly, your best defense is to know how to read your food label and avoid the use of processed or manufactured foods whenever possible. For help learning to read labels, check out How to Read Food Labels on Scientific Psychic. But even knowing what to look for and how to read labels, sometimes it seems an impossible task, so we decided to look for an app that does it for you …
We found three good ones:
Foods You Can: From influential food allergy site foodsyoucan.co.uk, we found a FREE iPhone application which was created to help allergy sufferers identify foods they can eat, where to buy them, and also provide recipes to make with the food. The best thing about this one? It’s free! This isn’t just good for finding aspartame in your foods, it helps people with gluten sensitivities and other allergies. Read more on PRWeb, visit the Foods You Can Web site or download Foods You Can free.
Label Reading Guide: Another free app, this one helps you better understand the ingredients in your cleaning products. It’s more of a reference, but very informative! Download the Label Reading Guide on iTunes FREE.
iScan My Food: This one is £2.99. Pro version is £6.99 It was developed for scanning food ingredients and contains information on harmful food additives, toxic ingredients in food and genetically modified foods. Download iScan on iTunes or learn more on the iScan Web site.