Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keeping it Simple: Carbohydrates

There was a commercial that was playing in the background as I was rushing to go somewhere...I can't remember where. Anyway, I can't remember the exact wording, but it went something like this "It's always changing...carbohydrates are good..carbohydrates are bad". This commercial really got under my skin.  It's commercials like these from the media that ruins nutrition information.  On the other hand, it is true that with other aspects of nutrition (not all), and with ongoing research, other nutritional "news" may change. However, when it comes to carbohydrates, media has continually given this important macronutrient (a major nutrient that is essential to our existence) misrepresentation. Carbohydrates has been proven for years that we need it for our bodies to function properly. That will not change.

It makes me cringe (although I keep my mouth shut) whenever I get together with our women's Bible Study group, and they're proud to announce that the bread they're using for our sandwiches is "low-carb". That's nothing to be proud about!! 

So, let's just keep this simple. The number one fuel  source our body depends on is carbohydrate. The desirable carbohydrates our bodies should have more often are fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, whole grain rice, and potatoes. These food items give our bodies various vitamins, various polyphenols, and fiber. Intake of these foods results in a healthy body. The less desirable carbohydrates are desserts (like cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream), white bread, white pasta, white rice, and sugar-filled drinks such as sodas. These food items certainly gives us calories, but they do not always necessarily give us the nutrients we get from the other food items previously listed, especially fiber!  If you're going to take in calories, you want calories that will give you good bang for your buck...meaning that the calories you take in are calories that come with nourishment. Calories devoid of nutrients is not worth taking in. Continually taking in calories that do not have adequate nutrients can lead to a nutrient deficiency, which you do not want to experience. On the other hand, if you also cut back on your calories too much on a daily basis to lose weight, well ready to enter the malnutrition zone and feel horrible. But hey, if that's where you want to be, then that's your prerogative.

Anyway, please don't be swayed by the negative reporting of media. We NEED carbohydrates, just like we need protein and fat in order to be healthy; however, we do NOT need any of these macronutrients in excess. Excess intake of any of these macronutrients (and not exercising regularly) can lead to unused calories at the end of the day resulting in a caloric pile-up. Since this pile-up of calories has no where to go and are not being used, then they happily and gladly to turn into fat and extra weight. Really, it's just as simple as that. So, proceed with mindful moderation. Happy eating to all of us!
My favorite undesirable carbohydrate is ice cream...which I have once in a while!:)  What's yours?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Favorite Dessert During My Trip to Romania

Now I don't want to offend anyone in any way and I certainly do not like to delve into any negative political or territorial turf. So, please just know that I am only writing about my favorite dessert that I had in Romania and that's it. Nothing else. You know I love food and good, delicious tasting food, so that's absolutely it!

On this trip, I made sure that I wouldn't over-do it on eating sweets.  I generally don't have much added sweets, but when I travel I tend to want to try every dessert offered to me, because I want to experience that particular country's cuisine. On my last trip to Slovakia and Austria last May, I didn't keep track of how much dessert I was eating and I paid for it when I returned.  I got sick.  So, this time, although not saying no to any dessert, I just made sure I had a couple bites of each dessert that I had there and totally savored and enjoyed the moment. I am happy to say that this worked!

The noodle dessert is on the left. Yummeeeeee!
So on to my favorite dessert that I loved over there in Romania! Never in my life have I had the opportunity to have a dessert that has pasta or noodles in it! Never! Ever! So, the concept was very strange and intriguing to me. I was looking forward to it and I was ready. I was very thankful that our Romanian colleagues decided to take us to a wonderful restaurant during the last couple nights of our stay. We were taken to a Hungarian restaurant.  Oh yes! The food was also very delicious was...even though I cannot remember what I had (I ate so many different dishes during my stay over there that it's hard to keep track). Then the choices of desserts came.  We had three different kinds that arrived to our table on a plate. The other two were good, but the one that caught my taste buds was the dessert with noodles in it. Oh it was so strange at first, but I loved it!! It definitely works. I also liked the fact that it was not too sweet. The sweetness was just right. Traveling is definitely fun when you go to places with desserts you don't normally have in your home country!

Which Hungarian dessert have you had and did you like it?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Discovery in Romania

Last week, I returned from an absolutely memorable and unforgettable trip to Romania. Romania is a beautiful European country. Therefore, I have had no energy to write or blog since I returned due to always having such a difficult time with jet lag. However, it was well worth the time and effort visiting the country in order to participate in the inaugural conference meetings of the Romanian Nutrition and Dietetics Association. That truly was an honor and privilege to take part in history. I am excited for all of the new Romanian dietitians who will be able to continue helping and guiding people to better health in their country.

One of the joys of traveling to a different country is to take part in their culture...and food!!!:) Soups are a very important part of Romanian meals. These soups are very healthy due to its richness in various vegetables. The dietetic students and dietitians have also told me that Romanian soups are not made with a lot of salt. That is truly amazing to me, because their soups are very flavorful. I was wondering what flavor I was enjoying eating a particular soup one day. I was told that the herb lovage is one of the herbs used in Romanian cuisines. There are medicinal benefits to this herb, but that is not what I am going to focus on here. I just want to focus on the fact that this herb definitely brings a wonderful and pleasantly unique flavoring to soups! 

One of the students in Romania actually gave me some lovage leaves and seeds to take home with me back here to the U.S.  However, when I got to the agriculture inspection in Portland, they told me they had to take the seeds away from me, but that I was allowed to take the leaves with me all the way to California. Taking the leaves with me made me happy. Anyway, lovage seeds can be ordered online. I will be doing that. I am happy to have access to lovage seeds. In addition, I hope you will try the lovage herb one day in your cooking, so that you will be able enjoy the delightful flavor it delivers.


Have you had the chance to visit any European countries this year? If so, which country was it and what food did you particularly enjoy from that country?