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Pasta doesn’t do my blood sugar any favors, so I don’t eat a lot of it. At roughly 55g of carbohydrate per serving, I’d rather eat this:

bagelor a generous slice of this:

chez_panisse_pizza

But the rest of my family loves pasta, so I was happy when a friend turned me onto Dreamfields pasta. dreamfieldsIt tastes exactly like regular boxed pasta, but contains only 5g of “digestible carbohydrates.” It's a pretty amazing feeling to eat a bowl of pasta, dose for only 5-10g of carbs, do a post-meal BS check and find that I am perfectly in range.

There is one important caveat: over-cooking, re-heating, or letting Dreamfields pasta sit in cooking liquid/sauce breaks it down and raises the digestible carbs. So, on the rare occasions I make a pre-sauced pasta dish, I use “regular” pasta. To offset the ginormous carb hit, I also flip the typical pasta-to-vegetable ratio so the bowl is filled mostly with vegetables and accented with pasta.

I'm not super-tempted by Halloween candy. (Lucky for me, our neighbors don't hand out Cadbury milk chocolate.) Still, I keep a carb cheat sheet handy, just in case.

Curious about the carbohydrate count of your favorite Halloween treat? Take a look:

Carbohydrate Content of Popular Halloween Treats

One of the assignments in my nutrition MOOC involved keeping a food diary for a day and making nutritional observations. The assignment effectively reinforced the course concepts. A bonus in this international class, is seeing what people in various countries eat, say, for breakfast. Pumpkin - really? (Yep. Bangladesh.)

People with diabetes are often asked to provide our medical teams with detailed logs about our food intake, exercise and blood sugars. It's not uncommon for my endocrinologist to request 1-2 weeks of data in order to see patterns and trends and better understand how my diet and exercise might be affecting my blood sugar. As valuable as I know the results are, the process of calculating and recording the data is monumentally tedious. (Thankfully it's a little less cumbersome since the advent of nutrient-tracking apps like MyPlate Calorie Tracker, MyFitnessPal.)

For the Coursera assignments, my classmates and I use SuperTracker, the USDA’s free, online tracking tool designed to help people meet their exercise and nutrition goals. Unlike many other apps in the food diary space, SuperTracker includes the option to track micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). I haven’t ever paid attention to micro-nutrients, so I was surprised to discover that on a typical day my calcium intake falls far below the recommended levels for women in my age group.

I researched how to work calcium into my diet. I knew about some of these calcium power-houses, but some (figs?!) were new to me.

2 TBL blackstrap molasses
400 mg
2 cups low-fat yogurt
320 mg
1 cup milk
305 mg
1 cup broccoli
180 mg
½ cup navy beans
178 mg
2 TBL sesame seeds
175 mg
1 cup arugula
125 mg
1 hard boiled egg
25 mg
½ celery
24 mg
¼ cup chick peas
20 mg
1 dried fig
14 mg

Since our garden is teeming with greens, I’ll begin with a calcium-rich salad.
#28 on Bittman’s seasonal salads fits the bill.

Bittman 101 Salads

Stuck in a rut?
See Mark Bittman's enduring 101 Simple Salads for the Seasons, courtesy of the NYTimes.

I'm in week three of "Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention," the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I posted about recently. This is my first experience with a MOOC and so far I'm impressed and intrigued. I see enormous potential in the format. I only wish I had more time to spend on the discussion boards interacting with the other very many other people in the class.

Did I mention that there are 25,000 students in the class? (That's not a typo.) 25,000 active participants from all over the globe - Korea, Cameroon, USA, Venezuela, Ethiopia, India, Romania... it feels really amazing to be in class with such an extremely large, global community.

As a result, I'm thinking about food from refreshingly new perspectives. For example, the focus of this week's lectures is the role of nutrition in diabetes management and prevention. One of the assignments is to create a meal plan for someone with diabetes. OK, that part is not refreshing since it's something I do everyday. But once we completed the class... [Update: Here's the Diabetes Meal Plan I designed according to the assignment parameters.]

I signed up for my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention through Coursera.

The class starts in 10 days and I can't wait. While I have worked and taught in the online space before, this will be my first experience inside a MOOC. I'm excited by the newness of it and hope the course will be engaging, challenging and filled with diverse and curious learners.
I'll let you know.

Aside from the occasional omelet, vegetables rarely make an appearance at the  breakfast table (at least in this country). It's a mild injustice - salads for breakfast can be really, really good.
I have my favorites (this one, for example), but below are three more I plan to try out soon. (Clicking on each image will take you to the corresponding recipe.)

winter salad  egg-white salad  deconstructed salad

Do you eat salad for breakfast?

Food is a major focus of celebrations in our culture. Sweet treats especially play such a prominent role that a party without them is almost unimaginable. A birthday without cake? Valentine’s Day without cookies? Halloween without candy???

Yes. I propose that we re-imagine how we celebrate, overturn the norm, and actively shape a new culture of wellness.

Here’s the challenge – pick the micro-culture you’re going to change – your family, school, office, or block. Consider starting with your own birthday. Serve fruit kebabs. Or a watermelon with candles in it. Sure, it will feel awkward at first, but few people will find the change refreshing. Encourage those people to carry the charge the next time and support them when they do. Little by little, people will stop believing that cake has to be part of a birthday celebration.

Commit to gradually shifting what celebrating looks like by making some small changes:

  • Make the focus something other than food. You got a promotion? That’s awesome – let’s go for a walk to celebrate and you can tell me all about it.
  • Be creative. Breakfast meeting? Opt for Clementines over pastries. (yes, the fist time I brought Clementines to a meeting I felt a little funny handing them out. But guess what – they loved it. And now it’s just what we do.)
  • Trump the cupcake. Sure, cupcakes are cute. But so are these (my versions of which  were a big hit with kids and parents at my children’s recent class parties):

Canteloupe Lollipop   Rainblow Fruit Kebabs   Flower-shaped Cucumber Slices
Photos: school-bites.com; weightlossfitnesshealth.tumblr.com; and madiganmade.com.

(And yes, there’s still a place for the odd cupcake.)

4th Annual Diabetes Blg Week 2013

This post was written for Diabetes Blog Week

The Prompt (suggested by Briley of inDpendence):
Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community. Tell us who you would write a petition to – a person, an organization, even an object. What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change? 

At the moment one young member of our family isn't wild about vegetables. By "not wild about," I mean, she'll eat broccoli, peas or artichokes but any other vegetable is a mood-changer, and not in a good way. I am eager for this this narrow-paletted phase to end and I'm pretty sure she doesn't want to hear about nutrition from me. What's needed are some snazzy, engaging nutrition materials to plant in her path.

With this goal in mind, I visited the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) online. One of the first things I found was the Healthy Eating Plate (below), a nutrition guide created by experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. HSPH's guide improves on the USDA's My Plate by emphasizing the quality of nutrients. (For details, see this HSPH article comparing the Healthy Eating Plate to My Plate.)

The Healthy Eating Plate       USDA's My Plate

Tomorrow, the Healthy Eating Plate will happen to be in the backseat during carpool. Chatter will ensue.

lettuce wrap

(Recipe serves 4 as appetizer)

Ingredients

  • 4 large bibb lettuce or large spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 2 TBL lime juice
  • Fresh chives
  • Black pepper

Steps

1) Place a few slices each of the cucumber, mango, jicama and bell pepper on a lettuce leaf.
2) Squeeze some lime over it and add freshly ground black pepper.
3) Roll it up and tie it with a chive, if you wish.

Doesn't that look appealing?

lettuce wrapped

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