06 September 2012

Healthy Foods & Fighting Weight

One problem with genetics is that we tend to inherit not only our parents health problems but their habits as well.  At least, for me, that is.  I have been fighting my Italian genes all my life and that, combined with my love of books and writing career, tends to have me on my ass a lot.

As I approach my forties, I struggle with the weight I've picked up in my thirties, which has settled around my belly like a bulging tire.  I look at pictures of myself absolutely horrified at the person staring back.  A difficult pregnancy combined with complete stress and bad PPD all led to an unhealthy lifestyle, one that managed to wipe out accumulated years of gym workouts and racquetball games.  Six years later, I'm just now starting to try to get the body back I once had.  

The funny thing is, I'm not that big of a junkfood eater.  My problem doesn't stem from snaking on chips or cookies or ice cream.  I'm not the type of woman who can't resist bad food.  But I am the kind who doesn't know how to cook correctly, or cook smartly.  And that's half the battle.  Knowing what to eat, how to prepare it, that's the trick.  I know legumes are good for you but what the heck is a legume?  Protein is good for you, but what kind of protein is best?  

Following is some information I discovered while searching for healthy foods.  My dream would be able to eat nothing but what's on this list, but I wouldn't even know where to begin, so to start I'll with what knowledge I've gained and go from there.

Accumulated from various websites like Mayo.com and Eatingwell.com

Whole grains:  ½ cup cooked oat bran or oatmeal, barley

Fruits:  Prunes, pears and citrus fruit (like an orange or grapefruit), nectarines, peaches, plums, apples, melons, and berries..  (one website said don't eat fruit after 6pm or your body won't have time to disperse the sugar and another said absolutely no bananas)

Legumes, Seeds, Nuts:  legumes are the best soluble fiber (1/2 cup cooked legumes are better than 3 pieces of fruit), lima and kidney beans are the highest ranking, pinto, navy, black and northern beans trail behind at a close second, Lentils, whether yellow, green. or orange, have as much soluble fiber as a piece of fruit or cup of oats, but far more overall fiber. Chick peas and black eyed peas also meet this criteria.

(What is Legumes? - Adzuki beans, Anasazi beans, Black beans, Black-eyed peas, Chickpeas, Edamame, Fava beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Red kidney beans, Soy nuts)

Preparing legumes:
Dried beans and legumes, with the exceptions of black-eyed peas and lentils, require soaking in room-temperature water, a step that rehydrates them for more even cooking. Before soaking, pick through the beans, discarding any discolored or shriveled ones or any foreign matter. Depending on how much time you have, choose one of the following soaking methods:
  • Slow soak. In a stockpot, cover 1 pound dried beans with 10 cups water. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
  • Hot soak. In a stockpot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover tightly and set aside at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Quick soak. In a stockpot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Boil 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Gas-free soak. In a stockpot, place 1 pound of beans in 10 or more cups of boiling water. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Then cover and set aside overnight. The next day 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars that cause gas will have dissolved into the soaking water.
Cooking Tips:
After soaking, rinse beans and add to a stockpot. Cover the beans with three times their volume of water. Add herbs or spices as desired. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender. The cooking time depends on the type of bean, but start checking after 45 minutes. Add more water if the beans become uncovered. Other tips:
  • Add salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice, near the end of the cooking time, when the beans are just tender. If these ingredients are added too early, they can make the beans tough and slow the cooking process.
  • Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.
  • To freeze cooked beans for later use, immerse them in cold water until cool, then drain well and freeze.
  • One pound of dried beans yields about 5 or 6 cups cooked beans. A 15-ounce can of beans equals about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans, drained.

Vegetables:  While there is not a large list of vegetables that are high in soluble fiber, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and carrots make the list of veggies that are good for your heart and your digestive system.


  1. Lentils
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Organic Milk
  4. Beans (Legumes)
  5. Organic tofu
  6. Broccoli
  7. Organic and low fat yogurt
  8. Nuts
  9. Natural peanut butter
  10. Brown or black rice, quinoa or millet
  11. Organic potatoes
  12. Organic or pasture raised eggs
  13. Light tuna
  14. Organic, pasture-raised or antibiotic free chicken (skinless)
  15. Organic or antibiotic-free turkey
  16. Wild salmon
  17. Pasture-raised, certified humane pork                     

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