Some manufacturers add “live” healthy bacteria cultures to their dairy or soy products during processing to enhance the health-promoting potential. These cultures may include Lactobacillus Acidophilus. The probiotic bacteria pass through the stomach to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where they help maintain a good balance between the many kinds of bacteria that live there, while promoting overall GI health. There is some scientific evidence that fermented foods containing probiotics may help to prevent some forms of cancer, too.
Go for a probiotic boost. Health experts are putting a lot of focus on the use of probiotics to prevent and treat a variety of diseases. According to Sandra McFarlane, PhD, of the University of Dundee in Scotland, by the age of 60 the number of “friendly” bacteria populating the GI tract can be reduced by up to a thousandfold. Many scientists believe that this in turn can lead to an upset in the balance of the immune system, less resistance to infection, less tolerance to a variety of antigens, and an increase of allergic responses.
A poor diet that’s high in fat, sugar, and white flour doesn’t help you maintain an optimal GI environment and a strong immune system. Probiotics are live bacteria that offer health benefits when you consume them.
Deliberately eating bacteria might seem odd, but many types of yogurt contain bacteria—referred to as “live cultures” on the label—and you probably don’t give these invisible ingredients a second thought.
Some strains of probiotics are well known to enhance people’s immune systems. Research has found that people who drank milk containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains for 3 weeks had increased activity of phagocytes (immune cells that respond to threats by eating them). Supplemental probiotics in the diet may help address the decreased phagocyte activity that occurs with age. There isn’t an established RDA for probiotics, but excellent sources include yogurt, kefir, and miso.
Do dairy. Whether it’s milk on your cereal, yogurt for snacks, or cottage cheese with a salad, go for two servings of organic low-fat or fat-free dairy each day. They’re great sources of lean protein, calcium, and (in the case of yogurt) probiotics for a healthy GI tract.
Kefir is a thick, creamy, tangy beverage that’s similar to drinking yogurt, except it also contains beneficial yeast and friendly probiotic bacteria (similar to those found in yogurt). Together, the bacteria and yeast in kefir combine to provide a variety of health benefits when consumed regularly.
Kefir can be made from any type of milk — coconut, cow’s, goat’s, rice, sheep’s, or soy. Kefir is made from gelatinous particles called ‘grains’ that contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with complex sugars and milk proteins (casein). The grains ferment the milk to create the cultured product. The grains are then strained out to leave the residual kefir.
You can actually buy cultured grains to make your own kefir, but most of us find it’s easier to buy our own quarts of kefir in the dairy case, near the milk and yogurt products.
I love using kefir in smoothies because it allows me to replace two of my typical smoothie ingredients (yogurt and milk) with one. I love peach smoothies and this month there are so many different varieties of stone fruit available. You can substitute any kind of fruit in this smoothie during the winter months when fruit varieties are more limited.
Peachy Kefir Smoothie
If fresh peaches aren’t available, frozen are fine – just eliminate the added ice.
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 cup plain lowfat kefir
- 1 large peach, diced (about 3/4 cup diced peaches)
- 2 teaspoons agave syrup (optional – depending on sweetness of fruit)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch nutmeg
- 3 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Serve immediately.
Calories 90, Total Fat g 1.5, Saturated Fat g 1, Cholesterol mg 5, Sodium mg 70, Total Carb g 14, Dietary Fiber g 1, Sugar g 12%, Protein g 5%, Calcium 15%, Iron 2%, Vitamin A 6%, Vitamin C 8%
For those of you who read this week’s The Biggest Loser weight loss article in the Sacramento Bee, here is an irresistable
weekend book special just for you!
Perhaps the longest lasting “trend” in recent years is the widely popular gluten-free craze. For many people who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease this is no craze – it’s a necessity. Some people have a very real allergy or intolerance to this protein which is found in several grains. They may suffer mild to severe digestive (and other) problems if they don’t adhere to a very strict gluten-free diet.
Wheat is the primary gluten-containing grain, but there is also naturally occurring gluten found in rye and barley. Many oat products also contain gluten, but gluten is not naturally occurring in oats. It is found in oats because of cross contamination during processing. That said, you can purchase oats that are gluten-free (not cross-contaminated) and it will very clearly state this on the label. (If it doesn’t say gluten free, assume it’s not.)
But what is gluten? If you ask a large number of people who swear by a gluten-free diet, you will find they don’t know what gluten is. But they may claim to feel better avoiding it, and they may even say that “going gluten-free” helped them lose weight. How can this be?
Gluten (also known as glutenin) and gliadin are two proteins that are found in wheat. Glutenin provides the structure of many baked goods such as bread, bagels and pizza crust. Some baked good recipes even called for the addition of extra pure gluten to their wheat flour to deliver an extra bang of gluten for extra chewy texture. For those who don’t have an allergy or intolerance, this can be a very good thing. Who doesn’t love the texture of a perfectly chewy bagel, a crispy pizza crust, or a warm slice of homemade bread?
Many people can’t enjoy any of these things and are forced to eat gluten-free to maintain their health. Because of the recent increase in “GF” preference, there are now a plethora of GF products on the market. But just because it’s GF does not mean it’s necessarily healthier.
Gluten-free products may be void of wheat, barley, rye and gluten, but some contain highly refined flours (e.g. NOT whole grain), and/or lots of sugar and not so healthy fats to make the taste and texture more tolerable. On top of that, many manufacturers are charging a premium price for using ingredients that are not necessarily more expensive…..buyer beware! Be sure to check the ingredient list and nutrition facts label.
I don’t deny that many of us might feel better or even lose weight going GF – but that’s often because too many of us are simply eating too many carbs, including too much wheat (often refined).
If you’re thinking of going GF because you believe you have a physical problem with it, please see your health professional to be tested before embarking on a GF lifestyle plan. Otherwise you may never know if going G-free really made a difference in your symptoms (if any).
I am not a heavy carb eater, but I do enjoy my whole grains, including wheat (rye AND barley). I’m always trying new grains and new preparations to share with my clients and students not just because they’re healthy, but also because they’re delicious and have incredible textures too.
Stay tuned for more whole grain recipes! and check out my new book
Follow Cheryl Forberg, RD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CherylForbergRD
I thought that might get your attention! Here is one of my favorite recipes from my new book – Chocolate Coconut Silk. If you are unable to find the unsweetened coconut milk (I used So Delicious brand – 45 calories per cup) you can use fat free milk, or soy milk or nut milk.
Chocolate Coconut Silk – Makes four 1/2 cup servings
I adore pudding. This is so creamy and chocolatey and easy to make –
hope you’ll love it too.
1⁄4 cup 21.5 g unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1⁄4 cup 32 g cornstarch
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 cups 473 ml unsweetened coconut milk,
1⁄3 cup to 1/2 cup agave nectar (depending on how sweet you like your desserts)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Add just
enough of the coconut milk to make a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the
agave and the remaining coconut milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring
constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir
in the vanilla extract. Pour into 4 serving dishes and cool.
Nutritional information (per serving):
Calories 150, fat 3 g, sat fat 2 g, cholesterol 0 mg, sodium 330 mg,
carbohydrate 33 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 22 g, protein 1 g
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After 15 seasons as nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Cheryl Forberg has uncovered stunning facts about typical eating and lifestyle habits that cause millions of Americans to gain thousands of pounds each year. Cheryl also knows how to interpret that information to promote weight loss. We’ve all seen the success of the hundreds of people she has helped “behind the scenes” at The Biggest Loser – and now the secrets and insights of one of the country’s top weight loss experts can be yours.
As seen all week on Good Morning Britain!
Many of us strive to be responsible with what types of food we put on the table for our families and loved ones. And our attention to this effort can be heightened when it’s time to set lavish spreads for holiday meals such as Thanksgiving.
There are a dizzying array of options in the store when it comes to selecting something as seemingly simple as Thanksgiving turkey. How do you decide which one is best for you?
What I usually tell people is buy the highest quality you can afford. While there can be significant taste differences between standard turkeys and their heritage-bred cousins (and, for the adventurous, wild turkeys), perhaps more vital is how the birds are raised and prepared.
I hope this brief guide will help you wade through the confusing labels and names as you go shopping for your Thanksgiving (or any meal, really).
It’s important to take these labels as general guidelines, though. Infinitely more important is knowing where your bird came from and being confident in the producer. There are cases, unfortunately, where producers skirt the rules to gain certification but don’t honor the spirit of the designation. Likewise, many birds can be raised ethically and sustainably with no indication of such. And best poultry probably comes with the least packaging, anyway.
Types of Turkeys
The term “organic” is a moving target, and the labeling of food as such can be contentious. However, any birds labeled “certified organic” by the USDA have been fed approved organic grains (in accordance with a list of rules), have not been treated with antibiotics or given growth hormones and have been given freedom of movement. You can find other conditions that producers must meet to earn a “certified organic” label at the USDA’s site.
If you see “free-range” on the package or you are told the bird you are ordering is free-range, that means it has not spent its entire life confined to a cage and was given, again, freedom of movement and “access” to the outdoors, but it may have been kept in a barn. Unfortunately, this is a label that can lead to some dishonesty, since producers need only have an exit to the outdoors available to the turkeys, and they may never actually get outside and there are no limits to how many turkeys can be stuffed into a barn. Again, this is where it’s important to trust your producer and source.
This goes one step beyond “free-range”: These birds have open and unfettered access to the outdoors and are left free to wander as they see fit. Sometimes though (often), they just want to sit around. These birds graze in the outdoors, and, because of a diet high in grasses, its meat will be higher in Omega 3 fats (a good fat), though it may be leaner than what you are used to.
All of the above turkeys would be raised on a vegetarian-fed diet, meaning their diets are free of all animal by-products (though they may not adhere to the strict standards set out for organic certification). Turkeys are naturally vegetarian (except for pecking at a few worms and bugs), but often large commercial farms put animal byproducts from their other operations in the turkeys’s feed.
There are many different types of heritage-bred turkeys — American Bronze, Narragansett and Bourbon Reds, to name just a few — too many to list here, and these are the equivalent of the heirloom tomatoes of the poultry world. Unlike Broad-breasted turkeys (the common supermarket birds you are likely used to, which have been cross-bred to create birds with more meat — though not more flavor). The heritage-bred turkeys still breed naturally (the common domestic turkey is the result of artificial insemination), graze on grasses, bugs and worms, and they do run and fly (consequently they are leaner and have much smaller breasts, so you won’t want to roast them as long or they’ll dry out). They may have distinct flavors and appearances that vary drastically from their hybrid cousins.
Some conventionally-raised turkeys are given antibiotics — not because they’re sick, but because it helps them grow faster. An antibiotic-free label is your assurance that this was not the case. To meet “certified organic” specifications, a bird must be ABF-free, so the labeling may also indicate that the bird did not meet all the other standards necessary to be considered organic.
The term natural does not refer to how the turkey was raised, but how it was processed after slaughter. To earn this designation the only requirement is that the bird must not have been injected with preservatives or anti-microbials or other additives, such as artificial flavor or coloring.
Kosher turkeys are slaughtered in kosher slaughterhouses. Besides being a approved by a rabbi, these facilities also follow specific rules based on Jewish law. After the feathers are removed, the birds are soaked in cold water and heavily salted. This creates a sort of pre-brine, and whether or not they buy the bird for religious reasons, many people who enjoy brined-cooking prefer the convenience of not having to do this themselves.
If you see this on the label of a frozen turkey — it may also say this been done to “enhance moistness” or some such similar nonsense — run far away. Freezing does dry out the meat, as I said above, but a yucky solution of salt, sodium phosphates, sugar and artificial flavoring will do nothing for your feast.
At the links below you’ll find resources for to help you find various natural, free-range, pastured, organic and heritage-bred birds.
Check out Local Harvest to find a local turkey farmers near you:
On Nov. 21 I’ll be hosting a chat on Twitter using the hashtag #GetYourGobbleOn #CompleteYourFeast where you’ll have the opportunity to ask all of your questions about buying a turkey, cooking it and planning a Thanksgiving meal.
You can follow me on Twitter @cherylforbergrd and look for the #GetYourGobbleOn #CompleteYourFeast chat.
During the Twitter chat we’ll also be giving away some goodies to help you to get started preparing a healthy holiday meal, including a gift basket from Melissa’s Produce full of onions, potatoes, mushrooms, squash, garlic, rice, herbs and more. And for that all-important centerpiece: an American Heirloom turkey from the Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. These bronze and black birds are rich in flavor, certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and GAP Step 3 Rated. @DiestelTurkey
The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch is located in Sonora, California. For four generations, the family has been naturally raising turkeys on their beautiful farm nestled in the Sierra Foothills. Their ranching style, family-farming secrets, and strict sustainable standards consistently produce a better, tender and juicier turkey with real, old-fashioned flavor.
One of the last small, family-owned turkey grower-processors in the United States, the Diestel family raises a variety of different turkeys. Whether the turkey of choice is their artisanal American Heirloom known for more rich and flavorful meat; a GAP 5+ rated pasture-raised turkey; their certified organic turkey (Heidi’s Hens), or Diestel’s original, broad-breasted turkey possessing exceptional flavor, all of Diestel’s birds have one thing in common: They taste like turkey should. Click here to learn more about Diestel’s holiday birds.
Diestel turkeys are available at select retailers across the country. Visit this link to find a store near you.
(You must live within the contiguous U.S. to be eligible to win.) Join in the chat for your chance to win! #ad
Follow Chef Cheryl Forberg, RD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CherylForbergRD
After 15 seasons as nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Cheryl Forberg has uncovered stunning facts about typical eating and lifestyle habits that cause millions of Americans to gain
thousands of pounds each year. She also knows how to interpret that information to promote weight loss. We’ve all seen the success of the hundreds of people Cheryl has helped “behind the scenes”
at The Biggest Loser – and now the secrets and insights of one of the country’s top weight loss experts can be yours.
This handy pocket guide will be your go-to book for weight loss. Keep one in your car, stash one in your handbag and leave one on your kitchen counter.
In A Small Guide to Losing Big, Cheryl makes it easy – weight loss basics, nutrition tips, menus and recipes in a no nonsense pocket guide.
Pre-order now for free shipping when the book is available – approximately December 20, 2014
This is the cookbook the cast is using this season on The Biggest Loser. Get your copy today for half price and free shipping! Buy now
© Cheryl Forberg 2015