Wellness News
by Tanya
Happy Valentine's Day!

Junk Food, Sugar and Alcohol Are Basic Food Groups In US
According to a recent study at UC Berkeley, junk food, sugary drinks and beer make up nearly one-third of the calories that American adults consume daily. Healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains make up only 10 percent of the daily caloric intake. "We knew it was bad, but we didn't know it was this bad," said Gladys Block, Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health Nutrition at UC Berkeley. Block believes these findings are a large contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in this country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Soft drinks and pastries led the top 10 foods contributing the most calories to the American diet. Sodas alone contributed 7.1 percent of the total calories in the U.S. population. Foods such as hamburgers, pizza and potato chips rounded out the top five food items. Beer came in ninth on the list, just ahead of fried potatoes.
This information is timely, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reworking the food guide pyramid. The federal government will issue a new set of dietary guidelines intended to limit fat, salt, alcohol and soda consumption while urging Americans to eat a healthier mix of foods based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, lean meats, fish, and meat alternatives -- such as soy products, beans, and omega-3 rich organic eggs.
The UC Berkeley study highlights another disturbing fact regarding the nation's obesity crisis: although two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, most of these people are malnourished.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Nutrition Fact: Each 12-ounce soda contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Fast Food Can Cause Diabetes

Although it’s no surprise that eating a lot of fast foods can lead to obesity and poor health, a new study is showing a significant relationship between eating fast food and getting Type II diabetes. Researchers at the University of Minnesota studied more than 3,000 adults for 15 years to investigate the relationship between fast foods and obesity. The study focused on insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when a person’s cells lose their sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows blood sugar (glucose) to enter the cells for energy. Every cell in the body uses glucose for energy. The problem with insulin resistance is that it causes the pancreas to secrete even more insulin, which can cause weight gain. Insulin resistance also causes heart disease and Type II diabetes.

Researcher found that individuals who ate fast foods two or more times a week were on average 10 pounds heavier than those who ate fast foods less than once a week. These individuals also had twice the amount of insulin resistance. Most people know that fast food portions have more than doubled in size over the past 50 years. Researchers at the University of Minnesota also pointed out that large portion sizes are a large part of the problem.

Source: The Lancet, January 1, 2005

Nutrition Fact: Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) help stabilize blood sugar and may be good for individuals with insulin resistance.

Whole Grains May Protect Men's Hearts

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that men whose diets contain several servings of whole grain foods such as oatmeal, whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, wheat bran, popcorn, whole grain breads, barley, and bulgur appear to have a lower risk of heart disease than men who ate little or no whole grains but more bad carbs (white breads, white pasta, and processed cereals).
At the 14-year follow up, researchers, from the Harvard University School of Public Health, looked at data from 42,850 men aged 40–75 and found that those whose diets contained the most bran were 30% less likely to develop heart disease than men of the same age who included no added bran in their meals. Researchers also found that men who ate the greatest amount of whole grains had an 18% lower risk of heart disease than those who consumed the least amount of these foods.
Researchers believe that nutrients found in whole grains such as the B vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber protected the men against heart disease. They also believe the bran component of whole grains could be a key factor in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004 Dec;80(6):1492-1499.

Green and Black Tea May Slow Alzheimer’s
Researcher Dr. Ed Okello with Newcastle University's School of Biology found that green and black tea inhibit the activity of certain enzymes in the brain that are associated with memory. Green and black tea hinder the activity of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase, which has been discovered in protein deposits in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's. Green tea proved to be even better than black tea -- it also obstructed the activity of beta-secretase, which plays a role in the production of protein deposits in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Green tea's effects lasted longer -- one full week, whereas black tea's effect lasted for only one day.
Both black and green tea is derived from the same plant. However, black tea has a different taste and appearance because it is fermented.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne believe the findings will lead to the development of a new treatment for Alzheimer's. They are planning further research in this area.
Source: Phytotherapy Research, 18 624-627 (2004)

Tanya’s Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) Section

Question: I’ve been walking on a treadmill daily for several months. Why do my legs still feel tired when I reach the top of the stairs?

If you are walking on a flat treadmill, you will not develop your quadriceps (thigh muscles) enough to help you climb stairs without fatigue. You can strengthen your thigh muscles by doing the same activity that makes your legs tired – climbing stairs. This is called “specificity” of training. It means that you train for a specific activity by doing the same exercise/activity that you want to perform well. For example, if you want to run faster, you train by running faster. If you want to be strong enough to climb stairs, you train by climbing stairs.

You may also strengthen your quads by walking at an incline on your treadmill and gradually increasing the degree of the incline -- like walking up a hill. Another exercise for strengthening the quads is pedaling a bike and gradually increasing the resistance until your legs feel heavy and tired. Fun activities like skating and skiing also condition the thigh muscles. You may want to try doing Wall Squats:

Lean up against a wall. Slowly slide down the wall, supporting your back against the wall, until you are in a sitting position. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor (no lower 90 degrees). Support yourself by keeping your back against the wall. Hold that position until your quads become tired and shaky. Then come back up to a standing position. Do several repetitions of the exercise, gradually working up to 10 reps. When you master this one, come see me, and I will train you to do walking lunges!


Question: Many recipes that call for canned beans tell you to drain and rinse them before using. Are nutrients lost in the process, and does rinsing them help to reduce gas?

The liquid in canned beans has no significant nutritional value. This is not true for canned fruits and vegetables, but it does not affect beans. In fact, rinsing removes excess sodium, which is a good thing. Rinsing canned beans will not affect the gas-causing properties of the beans. However, if you are using dried beans, the liquid that is left after several hours of soaking does contain non-digestible sugars that cause gas. So it is important to drain the liquid – do not use it!

A Cooking Healthy Tip
Legumes, such as lentils and beans, are a wonderful source of nutrients, protein, fiber, and folate (folic acid). Add a whole grain, such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, or brown rice, to your legumes and you have a complete protein that can replace a serving of meat. (See the legume recipes in the recipe section of this issue).

Question: I’ve heard that we should eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, yet I’ve also heard that large amounts of pesticides and residue clings to the surface of imported produce. How can I be sure that eating so many fruits and veggies is safe?
About one third of all fresh fruit comes form overseas where US pesticides regulations do not exist. Washing produce is very important in order to remove unwanted contaminates from the surface of our produce. It’s best to scrub your fruits and vegetables with fresh water and a brush/scrubber reserved only for this purpose. Do not use detergent when washing fruits and vegetables. The detergent residues will be left on the produce and can cause diarrhea. Fruits and vegetables are porous and will absorb the detergent. The Food and Drug Administration has not labeled detergent to be safe when used on foods. Mixtures of chlorine bleach and water kills germs but should be avoided on food because they may be toxic if too concentrated.
The following can be used to safely clean produce. However, they may affect flavor.
Baking soda: Baking soda and water mixtures may leave behind sodium which needs to be scrubbed off and rinsed thoroughly so that it does not affect the flavor of the produce or add unnecessary sodium.
Vinegar: Vinegar is safe but may leave a residual aftertaste.
In addition to washing, you should:
Peel and discard outer leaves or rinds. Wash and scrub vegetables such as potatoes and carrots well if you want to eat the fiber and nutrient rich skin.
Clean surfaces, utensils, and hands after touching raw meat and poultry and before you use them on fresh produce.
Use a plastic cutting board reserved only for cutting produce. Do not cut meat on the same cutting board.
Keep refrigerators clean and cold. Cover and refrigerate produce you have cut.
Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning and preparing fruits and vegetables.
Check the expiration dates on prepared products.

Bananas Are Good Food
According to Suzanne Havala Hobbs, professor at the University of North Carolina, bananas are a powerhouse of nutrition. Bananas are a great food for people who exercise. A banana can fuel an hour and a half workout and provide you with energy, potassium, and fiber. The potassium in bananas also can reduce your risk for high blood pressure and stroke as well as strengthen your immune system.
People with diabetes should check with their physicians about how many bananas are safe to eat.
The Health Benefits:
Potassium powerhouse - One banana provides 400 mg potassium, or 11% of your daily quota. Getting enough potassium is vital to maintaining good heart health and blood vessels. Not getting enough potassium can contribute to high blood pressure and increased risk for stroke. Many prescriptions used to treat these conditions deplete potassium, so eating bananas can help replenish adequate levels.
Energizer - Who needs a power drink or energy bar before heading to the gym? Bananas provide a quick and efficient pick-me-up to replace the important vitamins and minerals you lose during a strenuous workout. Their potassium is essential for building muscles too.
Rich source of vitamin C - Yes, it even has vitamin C, a nutrient that helps the body heal, defends against infection and aids in the absorption of iron.
Immunity booster - One banana contains about 30% of your daily requirement of B-6, which helps synthesize antibodies in the immune system. This nutrient also is vital to protein metabolism, red blood cell formation and proper functioning of the central nervous system.
Fiber-filled - A banana meets 16% of your daily fiber needs and help maintain or restore normal bowel function.
Easy on digestion - Bananas are so easy to digest that even very young children and the elderly find them easy to digest.
Diet Aid - Nutrient-rich and fat-free, bananas are an excellent choice when you are trying to shed excess pounds. The sugar in bananas has earned them a bad rap from popular low-carb diet plans, but they are very healthy and filling. And -- who doesn't need energy when dieting?
Eat a banana to help meet your daily requirement of 5 fresh fruits and vegetables (soon to rise to 9 servings a day!). Eat bananas plain, with cereal or yogurt, or blend into a delicious and nutritious smoothie. (See banana recipes below).

,,, Recipes ,,,
From The Fitschen Kitchen

Lentil Soup

Lentils are used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. They are a very good source of fiber and magnesium. Serve with a salad and whole wheat bread for even more nutrients. Serves 6.


1 pound lentils
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Vinegar (red wine, cider or balsamic, optional)


1. Pick over lentils to remove any stones, dirt, or other foreign objects. Rinse them well in cold water and place in a large pot with enough cold water to cover lentils by 6 inches. Add the bay leaf.

2. Bring to a boil, skim off foam, lower heat, and boil gently, partially covered, until lentils are just tooth-tender, 20-30 minutes.

3. Add carrots, celery, and onion to the lentils. Cook partially covered till carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

4. Add crushed tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, partially covered, until lentils become very creamy and soft. Stir occasionally and add boiling water if necessary to prevent sticking.

5. Remove bay leaf before serving. If you like, stir in a little vinegar just before serving.

Nutrients Per Serving
Calories: 175.9, Protein: 8.1 grams, Fat: 5.8 grams, Saturated Fat: 0.8,grams, Monounsat Fat: 3.8 grams, Polyunsat Fat: 0.8 grams, Carbohydrate: 25.2 grams, Fiber: 8.7 grams, Cholesterol: 0.0 mg, Calcium: 61.9 mg, Magnesium: 44.2 mg

White Bean Vegetable Stew
Turkey sausage, kale and butternut squash pair with freshly cooked cannellini beans in this nutritious stew. Kombu, a sea vegetable, and asafetida, a powerful spice commonly used in Indian, Iranian and Ayurvedic cuisine, combine to add flavor and aid in digestion of the beans. Vegetarians need simply eliminate the sausage and use vegetable broth. Serve with a crusty whole grain loaf for a complete, nourishing meal.
3 cups dry cannellini or Great Northern beans (about 11/2 lbs.)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 lb turkey sausage, mild or spicy, casing removed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB fresh thyme, minced
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup water
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3 strips of kombu, rinsed then cut into 2" x 4" pieces (optional)
1/4 tsp asafetida (optional)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
2 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the beans...
Sort through the beans discarding any pebbles or chaff.
Place the sorted beans in a colander and rinse with running water.
Combine the beans and about 10 cups of water in a large stockpot, or enough water to cover them by about 4-inches.
Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, and boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, cover tightly, and allow the beans to soak for 2 to 4 hours.
When ready to cook, drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse with running water, this will help remove some of the hard to digest complex starches.
Heat the olive oil in the large stockpot over medium-high heat and sauté the onion until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the sausage, garlic and thyme, and sauté until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, water, tomatoes, kombu and asafetida (if using), stir to blend. Add the beans, stirring to combine.
Bring the beans to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Add the kale leaves during the last 10 minutes of cooking. If needed, add additional water or broth a 1/2 cup at a time, until the desired consistence is achieved.
To prepare the butternut squash...
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the butternut squash in a large bowl, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
Arrange the butternut squash on a large, rimmed nonstick baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
To serve the stew...
Fold in cooked butternut squash, salt and pepper.
Taste and correct the seasonings.
Serve hot.
Nutrition Info
Per serving (12 oz-wt.): 230 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 6g dietary fiber, 15g protein, 22g carbohydrate, 75mg cholesterol, 1010mg sodium

Banana Smoothie

Made with yogurt, this drink is both refreshing and nourishing. To tell when a banana is ripe, look for tiny brown spots, called sugar spots, on the peel.
1 ripe banana
1/2 c. nonfat yogurt
1 tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
1 tbsp. banana liqueur (optional)
1 c. crushed ice
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
lime wedge or banana slice, for garnish
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the smoothie into a large glass and garnish with a lime wedge or banana slice. Serves 1.
215 calories per serving; 8 g protein; 1 g fat; 48 g carbohydrate; 38 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol.

Banana Chocolate Cookie Pie
This dessert has 1/3 the amount of fat found in more traditional banana cream pies. By using low-fat milk and cornstarch instead of eggs and cream, you will forego the fat without sacrificing flavor.
Serves 8
1 9-oz box chocolate cookies (pick the lower fat varieties for even fewer calories)
2 TB brown sugar
4 tsp melted butter
2 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large bananas
1/4 cup fruit sugar free or low sugar peach jam
Preheat oven to 400°F. In food processor, process cookies and brown sugar until finely ground. Add melted butter and 1/4 cup of milk and process until and completely moistened.
Oil a 9-inch non-stick or glass pie plate. Using wet fingers, press crumb mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. If crust rises during baking, use the back of a spoon to push the crust back into shape. Cool on a wire rack.
In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg and salt. Whisk remaining 21/2 cups of milk into sugar mixture until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer, whisking constantly, for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Thinly slice bananas. Fold all but 1 cup of bananas into cooled pudding. Spoon filling into cool pie shell, smoothing the top. Arrange remaining 1 cup banana slices in a decorative pattern on top of pie.
In small saucepan, melt jam over medium heat. Brush melted jam over banana slices. Refrigerate until serving time.


3 or 4 mashed bananas
1 tsp. Splenda
2 eggs or ½ cup egg substitute
1 3/4 c. sifted cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. chopped nuts
Sprinkle Splenda over bananas and stir until dissolved. Beat eggs and blend into bananas. Sift dry ingredients, add nuts and blend with banana mixture. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, lower heat to 300 degrees and bake another 35 minutes or until done.
Banana Yogurt Cake

2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar (or 1/2 Splenda and 1/2 sugar)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. sugar (or 1/2 Splenda and 1/2 sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 c. mashed bananas
1/4 c. canola oil
1 tsp. lemon peel
3 egg whites
Stir flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl. In medium bowl stir in yogurt, banana, oil, lemon peel and vanilla. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and add 3/4 cup sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir yogurt, banana mixture into flour mixture. Fold in 1/4 of egg whites to soften and then fold in the rest. Pour in non-stick 9"x9"x2" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake slices better on the second day. Icing can be drizzled over cake. Serves 12.